The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, directed by Paul French, take the stage at Southern Oregon University's Music Recital Hall with the final show of its concert season, "Night Songs," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

The Southern Oregon Repertory Singers, directed by Paul French, take the stage at Southern Oregon University's Music Recital Hall with the final show of its concert season, "Night Songs," at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 20, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 21.

The concert will include American composer Morten Lauridsen's "Nocturnes," based on night poems by Austrian poet and novelist Rainer Rilke, Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and American author, journalist and poet James Agee. Lauridsen was named an American choral master in 2006 by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2007, he received the National Medal of Arts from President George W. Bush at a White House ceremony.

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Lauridsen worked as a Forest Service firefighter and lookout on an isolated tower near Mount St. Helens before studying composition at the University of Southern California. He began teaching at the Thornton School of Music at USC in 1967 and remains a member of the faculty today.

The Repertory Singers also will premiere a composition commissioned by James Collier and composed by pianist and accompanist Jodi French. Set to Sara Teasdale's poem, "Tonight," the piece is lyrical and romantically feminine.

"Like the whole concert, 'Tonight' is wildly romantic," Paul French says. "We decided to go with a romantic theme for this concert because it is spring."

Two harpists, Laura Zaerr and Celia Canty, make the piece sound twice as romantic. Zaerr and Canty also will perform on English composer Will Todd's "Among Angels," written for a 16-part choir and two harps.

Free lectures by Ed Wight will be offered one hour before the shows.

Tickets cost $20, $5 for students and Oregon Trail Card holders, and can be purchased at Paddington Station and Music Coop in Ashland, Grocery Outlet in Medford, Great Northwest Music Company in Grants Pass, online at www.repsingers.org or by calling 541-552-0900.

— Laurie Heuston