Ashland University To Perform 'Requiem'

Ashland University To Perform Brahms’ Requiem
Dr. Ron Blackley, professor of music and director of choral activities at Ashland University


4/4/13 ASHLAND, Ohio - The Department of Music at Ashland University will present the choral and orchestral masterpiece by the beloved romantic composer Johannes Brahms. Directed by Dr. Rowland Blackley, the Brahms’ “German Requiem” will be performed by the Ashland University Choir, Ashland Area Chorus and Ashland Chamber Orchestra on Saturday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m. in Hugo Young Theatre.

More than 120 musicians will fill the Hugo Young Theatre stage while featuring soloists Stephanie Sikora, soprano, and Brian Keith Johnson, baritone. “A German Requiem, To Words of the Holy Scriptures,” Op. 45 (Ein deutsches Requiem, nach Worten der heiligen Schrift) was composed by Brahms between 1865 and 1868. Many believe the piece was inspired by the death of Brahms’ mother in 1865, which caused him much grief as well as lingering feelings over Robert Schumann's death in 1856.

Comprised of seven movements and in the German language derived from the German Luther Bible, Brahms’ “Requiem” is a sacred but non-liturgical work with a message of hope for the living who must deal with and accept death.

Dr. Blackley, professor of music and director of choral activities at Ashland University, has previously presented several large choral and orchestral works including Handel’s “Messiah” in 2005 and 2010, while also collaborating with the Ashland Symphony Orchestra's performances of “Carmina Burana,” Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and the “Verdi Requiem.” While conducting the University Choir, Chamber Singers and Ashland Area Chorus, he also teaches in the areas of conducting and music education. He co-directs the major opera workshop productions and has served as conductor and music director for several Ashland University theatrical productions.

Stephanie Sikora, professor of music and head of the voice area at Ashland University, has been sharing her musical talents with audiences throughout Ohio and the Midwest for numerous years. She has sung more than 100 performances with Cleveland Opera on Tour, and has appeared in Cleveland Opera’s main stage productions of “The Merry Widow,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Mikado,” and “Die Fledermaus.”

She has been a guest soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra at Blossom Festival and has performed with the Reading Symphony, Canton Symphony, Mendelssohn of Pittsburgh, Ashland Symphony, Akron Lyric Opera Theatre, Firelands Symphony, The Singers’ Club and the Robert Page Cleveland Singers. Holding degrees from The Ohio State University, The University of Akron, and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia, Sikora has recently become sought after as an adjudicator at such prestigious competitions as the Tuesday Musical Scholarship Auditions and the Irma M. Cooper Opera Columbus Vocal Competition.

Brian Keith Johnson has performed many roles in opera from Figaro in “il barbiere di Siviglia” to Ford in “Falstaff.” As a member of Actors’ Equity Association, he also has performed a variety of musical theatre roles ranging from Jim in “Big River” to Father/God in “Children of Eden.” He has appeared as a soloist with orchestras across the U.S. in repertoire that ranges from Bach's “Magnificat” and Mozart’s “Requiem” to Brahms’s “A German Requiem” and Orff's “Carmina Burana.” Johnson received his bachelor's degree from the University of Akron, and has also studied abroad at the New Opera Academy of Rome and at the American Institute of Musical Studies in Graz, Austria.

Reserved seating tickets for the performance are $7.00 for adults; $5.00 for senior citizens, non-Ashland University students, Ashland University faculty and staff; and $1.00 for Ashland University students. To purchase tickets, call the Ashland University Central Box Office at 419-289-5125, Monday through Friday, 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM., visit the Box Office located in the lobby of Hugo Young Theatre at the corner of Grant Street and College Avenue, or order online at (additional fees apply).

For more information, visit the Web site at or contact Tricia Applegate, coordinator of performing arts publicity and events, at 419-289-5950 or

Ashland University, ranked in the top 200 colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2013, is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University ( values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###

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