Concert choir, San Joaquin Chorale celebrate Roy Klassen's career

Roy Klassen, D.M.A., is retiring in May. He joined the FPU in 1977 and conducts the university Concert Choir, the Pacific Chamber Singers and the San Joaquin Chorale, which he founded. He also teaches voice and conducting.

Klassen's stage roles include Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof." He also began the Lessons and Carols Christmas service, which has filled First Congregational Church, Fresno, since the first event in 2002. For all his contributions, Klassen received the 2009 Ella Odorfer Educator Award, part of the Horizon Awards sponsored by the Fresno Arts Council.

A student of Robert Shaw, Howard Swan and Paul Salamunovich, Klassen has been a soloist with the Fresno, Tulare, Burbank and San Fernando Valley symphonies and has sung with the New York City Opera Chorus. His bachelor's degree is from Occidental College, his master's is from California State University, Los Angeles and his doctorate is from Arizona State University.

"Elijah" depicts events in the life of the prophet, taken from First and Second Kings in the Old Testament. Episodes include the contest between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and his ascension to heaven in a fiery chariot.

"Requiem" is sacred but non-liturgical, and, unlike Latin requiems, performed in the German language. The work may have been inspired by the death of Brahms' mother and/or the composer's feelings over the earlier death of Robert Schumann.

Soloists for "Elijah" will be Aaron Bryan (BA '03), tenor; Marc McAlexander (BA '04), baritone; Melinda Ramos (BA'02), soprano; Krista Moore (BA '08), mezzo soprano; and Heidi Webb, soprano. "Requiem" soloists will be Ramos and current student Thou Yang, baritone. An instrumental group of about 50 university and community musicians under the direction of Wayne Huber, music faculty, will accompany the performance.

For more information on this or any FPU arts event, go to or call 559-453-2267.