Musings from the Artistic Director

Take One, Take Two

The next two concerts of SMCC are sort of a package, even though they are two separate events.  In our season brochure, we’ve called them “Take One” and “Take Two,” partly because “Take One” is an actual recording session.

“Take One” – On Friday, Feb. 14, 7:30pm, we begin recording Vol. 2 of the Complete Four Part A Cappella Massesof Henri Hardouin (1727-1808). Vol. 1, recorded in 2012-13; and the opening recording session is open to the public for the purchase of a ticket. This is historic in that these Masses have been rarely performed, much less recorded, in the 240 years since their publishing.  An almost exact contemporary of Franz Joseph Haydn, Hardouin spent his entire life at Reims Cathedral, first as choirboy, then as the Maître de Chappelle (Choirmaster) until 1801. Though he penned over 400 works for the cathedral, only these six Masses were published in his lifetime (1772), and little more has been published since, leaving the vast majority of his output in manuscript. While I am aware that these are not monumental masterpieces, they are nonetheless pleasant works worthy of a hearing, exhibiting delicate craftsmanship, lovely melodies, and moments of expressive drama and inventive word-painting. There is a clear sonic connection, an obvious stylistic “Frenchness,” between the works of the French Baroque (Charpentier, Lully, Rameau) and the lyrical works of later French composers like Fauré, Poulenc, and Milhaud.

At the concert on the 14th, recording issues will be discussed briefly with the audience between actual “takes” of the music – details of microphone placement, ambient noise, the process of editing and its impact on the recording sessions, etc. It will prove to be a fascinating experience for those so inclined, and I encourage you to be a part of it. This recording takes place at St. Elizabeth’s Church on the Auraria Campus, where we have recorded virtually all of our CDs.

“Take Two”– Ten days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 24, 7:30pm, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale – on of the nation’s premiere professional choruses – makes its Denver debut in a concert with St. Martin’s Chamber Choir.  The Desert Chorale has been invited to perform at the American Choral Director’s Association’s national conference later that month in Salt Lake City, and stops in Denver on its way there to present that concert, called “Dancing the Mystery,” which alternates readings from mystical poets Hafez and Rumi, and choral works of various spiritual traditions. As host organization, St. Martin’s will perform five works at the beginning of this concert, all by resident composer Terry Schlenker, including the world premiere of a new work Terry wrote specifically for this event, titled “Sleeping at last,” a poem by Christina Rosetti. St. Martin’s will also join the Desert Chorale on the final work of their program, the spiritual “Way down in Beulah Lan’ ” arranged by Stacy Gibbs. This will be a rare opportunity to see 48 professional singers, composed of two professional choruses, on the same stage and, in the case of the final number, on the same piece.  It is a great honor to have been selected by the Desert Chorale to be the choir they chose to pair with in this, their Denver debut, and a sign of our standing in this community.  It is also a reflection of St. Martin’s growing stature outside of Denver and Colorado.

I’ll include a complete repertoire list for this concert in a subsequent Weekly, but I’d plan on attending already and, if I were you, purchasing tickets. We’ve already sold about a half of the house for “Take Two,” which indicates to me that it will be a capacity or near-capacity audience. Click on Tickets in the menu above.