NOVEMBER 19-20, 2016
About The Program
We are extremely happy to be collaborating with organist Rodney Gehrke for our Fall 2016 concerts: “Dew from Heaven.” The concerts explore sacred music for voices and organ from the 17th to the 21st century. The first half of the program includes two chorale motets from 19th century Germany: Felix Mendelssohn’s “Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir” and Johannes Brahms’s “O Heiland reiss die Himmel auf.” Both works reveal the two composers’ familiarity with the German chorale tradition and their extensive study of the music of their predecessors, especially the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. The second half of the program explores music from the Anglican tradition, with works by Orlando Gibbons, Henry Purcell, and Charles Villers Stanford. The program also includes Arvo Pärt’s tranquil, still (nearly motionless) setting of a couple of verses from the Latin Pentecostal hymn “Veni creator spiritus” that call upon the Creator Spirit to “guide our minds with light and inflame our hearts with love.” In addition to accompanying the choir, Mr. Gehrke will play a chorale prelude by J.S. Bach and C.V. Stanford’s prelude on Gibbons’s “The Angels’ Song.”
Our fall program (November 2016) will include
Chorale motets, anthems, & other sacred music for choir & organ, featuring guest artist Rodney Gehrke, organ
O Heiland reiß die Himmel auf by Johannes Brahms
Aus tiefer Noth schrei’ ich zu dir by Felix Mendelssohn
Chorale preludes by J.S. Bach & C.V. Stanford
Works by Orlando Gibbons, Henry Purcell, & Arvo Pärt
APRIL 1-2, 2017
About The Program
We are thrilled that extraordinary Bay Area pianist Susan Soehner will be joining us for our Spring 2017 concert: Peace, Love & Robert Graves.
The featured work on the program is Morten Lauridsen’s Mid-Winter Songs (1980) on poems by Robert Graves. In contrast to his more recent “impressionistic” choruses, Lauridsen, a National Medal of Arts recipient and Distinguished Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California, describes his Mid-Winter Songs as “cool and crisp” with “edges and rhythmic vitality.” Demanding for both singers and pianist, this five-movement work is virtually a concerto for piano and chorus.
Also on the program are songs of passionate love, indifferent love, unfaithful love, and fairy-tale love by Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, and Gabriel Fauré—including the choral version of Fauré’s beloved “Pavane” with flautist Barbara Brown. Along with the Fauré, Ms. Soehner will play British composer Herbert Howells’s “Ralph’s Pavane,” a tribute to Ralph Vaughan Williams, whose Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis greatly influenced Howells.
Songs of peace by American composers Charles Ives, Aaron Copland, Lou Harrison, and New York-based Rich Campbell round out the program. In 2013, Campbell’s “If ever there is,” an impassioned and rhythmically vital setting of Robert Creeley’s “John’s Song,” was one of six works to be included in Essentially Choral, a program for emerging young composers co-sponsored by the American Composers Forum and VocalEssence. Just as Creeley does with words and phrases in his poem, Campbell uses rhythmic and harmonic repetition to build up a powerful and “insistent plea” for peace.