Musings from the Artistic Director

SMCC Men singing plainchant; St. Martin’s Season Opening Concerts

It’s good to be back in the saddle, so to speak.  It was a wonderful summer for MB and me, celebrating our 20th anniversary (with an Alaska cruise that “featured” an actual murder – perhaps you saw it in the news), and travels in England and Germany.  I hope you all had good summers as well.  But I’m looking forward to cranking things back up in my musical life, and sharing it all with you in these pages.


Six men of St. Martin’s Chamber Choir are reprising this Sunday a concert we did two seasons ago called “Chant: Mystery and Mysticism.”  The concert features two large works which both alternate Gregorian Chant with movements for organ, played by the incomparable Richard Robertson.  The first work is the Kyrie from Francois Couperin’s Mass for the Parishes (Baroque); but the main work on the program is the Symphonie des Mysteres by Joaquin Nin-Culmell (1908-2004).  This same group of people (Richard, and the men of St. Martin’s) did the premiere recording of this work in 1997 – exactly 20 years ago – in the presence of the composer (that recording is still available from Toccata Classics: https://toccataclassics.com/product/nin-culmell-symphonie-des-mysteres/, including some samples for listening).  We reprise that work here, 20 years later, in the same space and on the same organ. This is a mystical, 20-some movement work that traces the mysteries of the rosary.  Nin-Culmell was a student of Dukas and de Falla, a colleague of Messiaen, and, incidentally, the brother of the rather celebrated (notorious?) memoirist and erotica author, Anais Nin.  I recall him as a quiet, extremely polite man, and I very much like this piece of music.

The free concert is at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 1500 Logan St., at 3:00pm this Sunday.  Parking will be an issue, but since the concert’s free…  😉  It is part of the Basilica’s Bosetti Concert Series, honoring a past clergyman who championed good music at the Basilica.  Hope to see some of you there.


St. Martin’s opening concerts this season feature the Festival Singers (SMFS) in a concert called “Symphonic A Cappella.”  It’s all in the title – almost 70 singers singing works conceived on a grand scale, by Felix Mendelssohn, Louis Spohr, and Granville Bantock.  The Festival Singers’ debut a year ago this month was with orchestra (RVW Dona nobis pacem with the Stratus Chamber Orchestra); and I was pleased to have the Festival Singers featured this summer with the Colorado Music Festival in two concerts, once on Beethoven’s 9th, and then in Holst’s The Planets.  Both concerts received some of the best reviews that an ensemble of mine has ever received, in the Boulder Daily Camera.

Now these much-lauded Festival Singers are striking out into unchartered A Cappella territory.  I’ll describe the actual repertoire next week, but for now plan on which of these two concerts you want to attend, and purchase tickets at www.StMartinsChamberChoir.org/concerts/

  • Fri., Sept. 22, 7:30pm, Bethany Lutheran Church, Cherry Hills Village
  • Sun., Sept. 24, 3:00pm, Montview Blvd. Presbyterian Church, Park Hill