St. Martin’s Concerts This Weekend!

See the three previous entries for my “take” on our concerts this weekend – surefire pleasers with a sort of “Greatest Hits” feel, yet having the depth, richness and a taste of neglected masterworks that St. Martin’s is known for.  Details below, and I hope to see you there!

  • Sat., April 5, 7:30pm – St Elizabeth’s Church, Auraria Campus*
  • Sun., April 6, 3:00pm – Holy Cross Lutheran, Wheat Ridge (49th Ave. and Wadsworth Blvd.)

For Sunday’s performance, get tickets in advance at (303) 298-1970 or through “Tickets” in the menu above.

*Be advised that Saturday’s performance is a “Suggested Donation” event at regular ticket price levels, and no advance single tickets are being sold due to Archdiocesan policy; this means the likelihood of long at-the-door queues is high.  (Come early!).  There is also a Nuggets game at the Pepsi Center, which means that parking in the general area might be  tighter than usual.

Next concert is fast approaching

It has been my thought that the “Greatest Hits”-angle of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s next concert (i.e., that the audience and singers were the ones who actually programmed the concert by way of their votes), would in itself be a “draw,” spurring ticket sales.  However, if this angle is not a draw to you, then I urge you to look at it from another angle:  It’s actually quite a typical concert for us, and a fine group of works that would (and have) graced many of our concerts:

Beati quorum via, from “Three Motets”                      Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)
Crucifixus                                                                                 Antonio Lotti (1667-1740)
“The Poem, the Song, the Picture”                                                 Terry Schlenker (2007)
“Never weather-beaten sail,” from Songs of Farewell             C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918)
Kyrie and Agnus Dei, from Mass for Four Voices                         William Byrd (1543-1623)
Ave Maria                                                                               Franz Biebl (1906-2001)
Quatre Motets                                                                         Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)
          Tantum ergo
          Tota pulchra
          Tu es Petrus
          Ubi caritas
Alleluia                                                                                    Terry Schlenker (2005)
Mass for Double Choir                                                      Frank Martin (1890-1974)
          Kyrie
          Gloria
          Credo
          Sanctus
         Agnus Dei

  • Saturday, April 5, 7:30pm, St. Elizabeth’s Church on the Auraria Campus
  • Sunday, April 6, 3:00pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge

Of course, I’m the one who compiled the ballot in the first place, so there was nothing on it that I would not perform; but I compiled it with input from others; and while my expectations about one or two pieces were fulfilled (I was sure, for instance, that Biebl’s Ave Maria would be chosen, as well as Terry Schlenker’s Alleluia; and, indeed, this happened), there were also some surprises for me.  For instance, that the Parry “Songs of Farewell,” the Byrd Mass for Four Voices, the Lotti Crucifixus, and the Martin Mass for Double Choir proved to be such “hits” pleased me very much in terms of the breadth of taste of our audience.  So, while many love the Biebl Ave Maria, I’m also aware that others might be thinking “not that one again!”  Hence, I encourage such persons to look at the fact that the Martin Mass, as well as Terry Schlenker’s “The Poem, the Song, the Picture” (which made its way onto the concert as a write-in!), are on the playbill as evidence that it is a concert of substance and depth.

Our appearance at one of our old venues, St. Elizabeth’s, is also proving a draw to many.  So much so that I can say, within the semi-private confines of this Weekly, that we’re a little concerned that Saturday’s concert at St. E’s will be packed, and Sunday’s concert at Holy Cross will be empty.  So, if the St. Elizabeth’s venue is not important to you, I encourage you to choose Sunday.  Holy Cross is new to us this season, and our first two concerts there have engendered rave reviews from the audience who were there in terms of acoustics, comfort, convenience, sight-lines, ample free parking, etc.  If you, however, are so excited about hearing us in St. Elizabeth’s again that you must come Saturday, then I urge you to arrive early!  Remember also that the Colfax light rail station is less than a block away from St. Elizabeth’s.

Anyway, if you are coming Saturday, you must get your tickets at the door (for a suggested donation equal to the ticket prices below, as Roman Catholic Archdiocesan policy forbids the sale of tickets), so plan on queuing, as the Brits say.  If you are coming on Sunday, you can get your tickets in advance as follows, (or at the door):

(303) 298-1970; or on our website, www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org.  Premium seating $35; General Admission $25; Students $10.

Concerts April 5th and 6th: “Audience and Singer Favorites: Echoes of Twenty Years”

The fifth set of season concerts for SMCC are coming up soon – they’re called “Audience and Singer Favorites: Echoes of Twenty Years.” At our season opening concerts last September, a ballot containing 40-some pieces was distributed to audience and singers, and people had four votes to distribute as they wished. The resulting votes determined the programming of this concert, which is as follows (with the number of votes each one got in parenthesis):

• Singer favorites: (there were 29 singer ballots submitted)
from “Three Motets” – Beati quorum via – Stanford (7)
Crucifixus – Lotti (8)
“The Poet, the Song, the Picture” – Schlenker (5 write-in votes)

• Audience favorites: (there were 118 audience ballots submitted)
from “Songs of Farewell” — “Never weather-beaten sail” – Parry (20)
from Mass for Four Voices – Kyrie and Agnus Dei – Byrd (25)
Ave Maria – Biebl (41)

• Everybody’s favorites:
Quatre Motets – Duruflé (39 Audience, 11 Singers)
                Tantum ergo, Tota pulchra, Tu es Petrus, Ubi caritas
Alleluia – Schlenker (42 Audience, 9 Singers)

Interval

• Singer’s Overwhelming Favorite (23) and in the Audience top 5 (21)
Mass for Double Choir – Frank Martin

I think this has proven to be quite an interesting experiment in audience/singer polling, and to have produced, in effect, a “St. Martin’s Greatest Hits” concert!  Here are the concert details:

Saturday, April 5, 7:30 pm; St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Auraria Campus
Sunday, April 6, 3:00 pm; Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge

PLEASE NOTE: Due to a policy of the Archdiocese of Denver, we are unable to sell single tickets in advance of the Saturday, April 5, 7:30 pm concert at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church on the Auraria Campus. Instead, you will be asked to make a “Suggested Donation” of $25 per General Admission ticket and $10 per Student ticket at the door the evening of the concert. Tickets previously purchased as part of a season package will be honored at this performance.

Advance single tickets are on sale for the Sunday, April 6, 3:00 pm concert at Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Wheat Ridge – online HERE or by phone (303-298-1970). $35 premium seating; $25 general admission; $10 students.

SMCC 20th Anniversary video in the making

We are about mid-way through the production of a brief video/DVD celebrating St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s 20thAnniversary. It will be available as the grand finale of our 20th Anniversary Season this spring. On this past Saturday we filmed a number of interviews of singers, supporters, music critics, board members, local music educators, etc.; the narrator will be Jim East, of Colorado Public Radio; and there may be some additional material (under “Special Features”) on the DVD such as portions of concerts we have been video-recording this and last season. The anniversary portion of the DVD will be 12-15 minutes long, including the interviews, voice-over narration/history and a combination of photographic stills and video footage of the choir’s first 20 years. The “Special Features” will be longer, and, having now videoed about six concerts in the last year-and-a-half, we’re hoping to include substantial excerpts of these (synched with the excellent audio recordings by David Wilson that we have been doing for most of our history).

I’m excited about this; but, never having produced anything like it before, I feel like I’m in way over my head!! Having recorded and produced 12 audio CDs helps a lot in knowing what goes into the editing process; but adding the visual component has complicated it tenfold, it seems. Yikes!

Still, I’m quite excited about it. Stay tuned for updates, and the finished product!

Looking back to Celtic Echoes and looking forward to Favorites

Looking back: The “Celtic Echoes” concerts this last weekend were a resounding success, both artistically (the choir was fantastic!) and financially (we beat our attendance projections by about 5-10%). Everything came together, including the weather, to create a satisfying experience for everyone, singers and audience members alike. I heard from many that a particular piece brought tears to their eyes, or who found this or that arrangement particularly haunting. I myself was stirred to tears at the third concert during An Cronan Bais, “The Death Croon,” a Hebridean folk tune arranged by Granville Bantock, as I thought of the mother rocking her dying baby, and as the choir, and soloist Marj Bunday, rendered the song with great pathos.
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Looking forward: At our opening concerts this season, in September, a ballot listing 40-some pieces that we’ve performed in the past was distributed to audience members and singers alike, in order to determine the repertoire for our fifth set of concerts, taking place this April 5 and 6, called “Echoes of Twenty Years: Audience and Singer Favorites.”  Over 80 audience members submitted ballots, and 30-some singers.

After tabulating the results, here’s what got voted onto the concert (with vote numbers in parenthesis):

Singer favorites (out of 30-some ballots):
From “Three Motets” – Beati quorum via – C.V. Stanford (7)
Crucifixus – A. Lotti (8)
“The Poem, the Song, the Picture” – T. Schlenker (5 write-in votes)

Audience favorites (out of 80-some ballots):
From “Songs of Farewell” — “Never weather-beaten sail” – C.H.H. Parry (20)
From Mass for Four Voices – Kyrie and Agnus Dei – W. Byrd (25)
Ave Maria – F. Biebl (41)

Everybody’s favorites:
Quatre Motets – M. Duruflé (39 Audience, 11 Singers)
   Tantum ergo, Tota pulchra, Tu es Petrus, Ubi caritas
Alleluia – T. Schlenker (42 Audience, 9 Singers)

Interval……….

Singer’s Overwhelming Favorite (23) and in the Audience top 5 (21)
Mass for Double Choir – Frank Martin

For time reasons, we are obviously not able to do the entirety of such works as the Byrd Mass for Four Voices, the Parry Songs of Farewell, or the Stanford Three Motets.  So I’ve chosen some representative excerpts from those pieces.

The Duruflé Quatre Motets and the Martin Mass for Double Choir, however, were such overwhelming favorites that I will do the entirety of those works, as well as a few other shorter pieces (Lotti, Biebl, Schlenker “Alleluia).  One special mention is the five write-in votes for “The Poet, the Song, the Picture” by Terry Schlenker (I suspect a singer mounted a write-in campaign … this deserves my attention). Other write-in votes were much appreciated, but clearly impossible – the Bernstein Chichester Psalms, for instance . . . unless the person writing it is willing to put forward some serious cash to hire an orchestra!   :-)

This week I’m begging!

Two weeks ago I wrote about the concept behind this “Celtic Echoes: British Folksongs and Partongs” concert; last week I included the full program listing; this week I’m just going to beg you to come!

The choir is sounding fantastic, and the music is beautiful: some familiar tunes, some not so familiar, but all of them extremely inventive and liltingly beautiful (except for the fast ones, which are more playful than lilting!). I have the sense that it’s going to be one of those concerts that is talked about for years afterwards (like the “A Night to Remember” Titanic Cameo concerts we did two years ago)!

In case you’d like to see me talking about it there’s the (charming, if I say so myself!) promo video we recorded HERE. Have a look!

Friday, Feb. 7, 7:30pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
Saturday, Feb. 8, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver
Sunday, Feb. 9, 3:00pm, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Denver

Tickets are $25 Premium seating, $20 general admission and $10 students.
Purchase through the “Tickets” links above or call (303)-298-1970; or buy them at the door.

 

“Celtic Echoes” program promises to be gorgeous

Today is Mozart’s 258th birthday.  He was my favorite composer as a youth (did you know my nickname in High School was “Wolfgang?!”  Partly because of my very public and enthusiastic love for Mozart, but also because I was one of those high schoolers who could grow a full beard … so I did), and I’ve never outgrown him.  The world has never seen his like, certainly.  I’ve long thought that he deserves more credit for the creation of the Romantic style than he gets.  Just compare an early- to mid-era symphony to the Jupiter and you hear more of a jump in stylistic evolution than one hears even between Beethoven’s 1st and 3rd.  Anyway, happy birthday, Wolfie.

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Here’s a complete list of the works to be sung in SMCC’s upcoming “Celtic Echoes: British Folksongs and Partsongs” concert.  As you will see, it is organized according to nation first, and county next, concluding with three partsongs:

ENGLAND

County of origin not known:

     Greensleeves                                             arranged by W. H. Anderson (1949)

     The Turtle Dove                                   arr. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Somerset:

     “Blow away the morning dew”                                arr. R.O. Morris (1886-1948)

Cornwall:

     ”I love my love”                                                 arr. Gustav Holst (1874-1934)

Lincolnshire:

     The Poacher                                                    arr. George Dyson (1883-1964)

Northumberland:

     ”Dance to your Daddy”                                                arr. David Stone (1961)

Norfolk:

     Yarmouth Fair                                                  arr. Peter Warlock (1894-1930)

 

SCOTLAND

Hebrides:

     An Cronan Bais (The Death Croon)                  arr. Granville Bantock (1868-1946)

Strathclyde:                                                                                                                         

     Loch Lomond                                                  arr. Thomas Dunhill (1877-1946)

Galloway:

     Afton Water                                                           arr. Lee Kesselman (2001)

 

IRELAND

     Shule Agra                                                  arr. Arthur Somervell (1863-1937)

     Colcannon                                                        arr. Stephen Hatfield (b. 1956)

Londonderry:

     Irish Tune from County Derry                        arr. Percy A. Grainger (1882-1961)

 

WALES

     ”Hush, my dear one” (Suo Gan)                                    arr. K. Lee Scott (1988)

Folk-inspired Partsongs

     Lay a Garland                                              Robert Lucas Pearsall (1795-1856)

     The Blue Bird                                            Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924)

     Linden Lea                                                Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

As you can see, quite a variety, and the arrangements are all really inventive.  Morris’ arrangement of “Blow away the morning dew” elides the verses quite creatively; and, in one of my favorite pieces of musical suggestiveness, at the end of one verse, where the boy and girl of the song’s text encounter some “pooks” (stacks) of hay and decide to stop off and play, he skips the refrain and replaces it with the choir humming some chords (describing the nature [ahem] of their play…).  The Holst is positively chilling in its depiction of separation, resulting madness and grief, and reunion.  The Dyson and Warlock are as playful as can be; and the Grainger, Vaughan Williams, Somervell, and Scott are atmospherically lush and beautiful.  Then we conclude with three of the most famous partsongs of all – “Lay a Garland,” “The Blue Bird,” and “Linden Lea,” to round the concert off with a bit of “frosting on the cake.”

This promises to be a truly gorgeous concert, with both tunes that are very familiar (Greensleeves, Suo Gan, Irish Tune from Couny Derry [i.e. “Londonderry Air”], Loch Lomond, Afton Water) and some not-so-familiar but sure-to-please arrangements.

I hope to see you there!

The Preservation of Folksongs

It’s hard to believe that St. Martin’s Chamber Choir’s 20th Anniversary Season is already half over! Our next set of concerts, our fourth (out of six) is called, in keeping with the “Echoes” theme of our anniversary season, Celtic Echoes: British Folksongs and Partsongs.

Portrait of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams by William Rothenstein

Portrait of Ralph Vaughan Williams by William Rothenstein

As the 20th century dawned, great technological changes were creating vast transformations in society. The influx of rural populations into cities, greater mobility of the populace via road and rail, and the growing prominence of national (as opposed to local) media, were threatening the existence of folk art, which had been handed down from generation to generation largely by way of oral tradition, the demise of which was obvious given the above factors. Many artists in Britain realized that the vast repository of British folksong was threatened – that tens of thousands of tunes and lyrics would pass completely out of human memory if they were not recorded or written down. A great many musicians, therefore – RVW, Gustav Holst, Cecil Sharp, R. O. Morris, E. J. Moeran, among them – ventured into the countryside with pencil and staff paper (or phonographic recording devices in some cases), and encouraged the rural folk to sing them their songs. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of folksongs were thus preserved, and composers began to use these as the inspiration for choral and other vocal arrangements.

That’s the focus of this concert – the echoes of Celtic culture that remained in these folksongs and their skillful arrangements – arrangements by the likes of Vaughan Williams, Holst, Peter Warlock, George Dyson, Granville Bantock, and Henry Ley; as well as a few choral works (called partsongs) that, while not being actual arrangements of folksongs, clearly demonstrate the link between the British choral tradition and its folksong antecedents – partsongs such as Stanford’s “The Blue Bird,” Pearsall’s “Lay a Garland,” and Vaughan Williams’ “Linden Lea.”

20th Anniversary Season

Echoes

St. Martin's 2013-14 season: "Echoes"St. Martin’s upcoming concert set is entitied “British Folksongs and Partsongs: Celtic Echoes (A Cameo Concert *)”.

That St. Martin’s and Maestro Krueger have had a special relationship with British music over its first twenty years is obvious to most. Here, a broad sampling of folksong arrangements by Vaughan Williams, Holst and Stanford (such as “Loch Lomond” and “Blow away the morning dew”) will be combined with slightly more sophisticated partsongs by Elgar, Parry and Pearsall (“Lay a Garland” and “My love dwelt in a Northern Land”) in celebrating this special relationship.

(* Cameo Concerts are shorter than our regular concerts, feature ensembles of 12 to 16 singers and offer innovative and audience-interactive programs presented in intimate venues for a bargain price.)