Musings from the Artistic Director

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!   🙂

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