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Spring 2017 Concert Description
Burlington Choral Society Celebrates 40th Anniversary With Brahms' Requiem
The Burlington Choral Society will cap its 40th season in April with performances of beloved music. Richard Riley, artistic director, will lead the chorus, soloists and two pianists in Johannes Brahms' Requiem.
A musical journey from sorrow to consolation, the piece will be sung in English, as it was in 1871, just three years after its German premiere. Also on the program is Brahms' passionate Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny).
Performances are scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., at Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester and Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m., at the Barre Opera House. This will be the chorus's first performance in Central Vermont.
Pianists Claire Black and Diane Huling will be side by side at the keyboard playing Brahms' own four-hand piano arrangement. Sarah Cullins, soprano, and Geoffrey Penar, baritone, are the soloists.
Riley says, "Performing the Brahms Requiem is one of the most profound experiences one can have in music. The music is gigantic, and yet intimate. Together, performers and audience create an environment where, through music, we share our most personal feelings about life and death."
Tickets for the Colchester performance are at the Flynn Box Office, flynntix.org and (802) 86-FLYNN. Barre tickets are at the opera house box office, barreoperahouse.org and (802) 476-8188. Prices are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors.
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On Saturday, April 22, 7:30 p.m., at Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester and Sunday, April 23, 4 p.m., at the Barre Opera House, Richard Riley will lead the chorus in the composer's four-hand piano arrangement of the Requiem. Sung in English, the piece is a musical journey from sorrow to consolation.
Also on the program is Brahms' passionate Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny).
Pianists Claire Black and Diane Huling, and soloists Sarah Cullins, soprano, and Geoffrey Penar, baritone, are featured.
Tickets for the Colchester performance are at the Flynn Box Office, flynntix.org and (802) 86-FLYNN. Barre tickets are at barreoperahouse.org and (802) 476-8188. Prices are $25 general admission and $20 for students and seniors.
Recent concerts at Elley-Long have sold out, so get your tickets early to be sure of a seat.
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Fall 2016 Concert Description
Burlington Choral Society Celebrates 40th Anniversary with Bach's Christmas Oratorio
The Burlington Choral Society will celebrate the Christmas season -- and the group's 40th anniversary -- on Saturday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., at the Elley-Long Music Center in Colchester, VT.
Richard Riley, artistic director, will lead the 100-voice chorus in J.S. Bach's Christmas Oratorio, parts 1, 2 and 3. Riley said, "These parts tell the Christmas story with extraordinarily specific images." Soloists will perform with the chorus and period instrument orchestra.
The concert marks the beginning of the chorus's 40th season. It was founded in 1976 by two University of Vermont professors, Francis Weinrich and Frank Lidral. Handel's Messiah was chosen for the group's debut. John Henzel, Thomas Strickland and David Neiweem led the BCS in later decades. Riley became artistic director in 2012.
VPR is media sponsor for the Burlington Choral Society's 2016-2017 season.
Spring 2016 Concert Description
The Burlington Choral Society's spring concert will celebrate light and warmth with a program of Haydn gems not performed in the area for many years.
Recent concerts have sold out, so get your tickets now at the Flynn Box Office, flynntix.org or (802) 86-FLYNN. Prices are $25 general admission and $20 for students and seniors.
Richard Riley, artistic director, will lead the 80-voice chorus in "Spring" and "Summer" from Joseph Haydn's The Seasons, and two shorter works: "Insanae et Vanae Curae" (Insane and stupid worries) and "Te Deum Laudamus" (We praise thee, O God).
Soloists Mary Bonhag, soprano; Adam Hall, tenor; Benjamin Dickerson, baritone; members of the Burlington Chamber Orchestra; and pianist Claire Black will perform with the chorus.
The two movements from The Seasons (1801) will be sung in English. In "Spring," country folk rejoice in Nature's re-awakening and the loveliness of the landscape. "Summer" finds them hailing the Sun that brings life and light. Their world shakes and trembles when a violent musical thunderstorm erupts. The calm after the storm brings maidens and young men out for a starlit evening.
The two pieces to be sung in Latin are just as vivid, with ardent cries for help from God contrasted with resounding praises.
Since Riley became artistic director of the Burlington Choral Society in 2012, the chorus has introduced audiences to a range of underperformed works by classical masters. Riley said, "For this concert, the audience will hear some Haydn gems that have not been performed in the area for many years. Composed or revised at the very end of Haydn's creative life, these pieces contain a lifetime's worth of wonder and emotion."
Fall 2015 Concert Description
The Burlington Choral Society will perform a program based on choral music from that remarkable Baltic Republic of Estonia, including what we believe to be the North American premiere of Tõnu Kõrvits' exquisite Kreek's Notebook, which is based on Estonian sacred folk melodies collected by Cyrillus Kreek. This program will also feature a piece commissioned for the BCS by Estonian-American composer Lembit Beecher. Lembit is in the first or second year of a three-year appointment as the first Composer In Residence of Opera Philadelphia in collaboration with Gotham Chamber Opera and Music Theatre Group of New York. From the Scrag Mountain Music website: "Born of Estonian and American parents, he grew up under the redwoods in Santa Cruz, California, a few miles from the wild Pacific. Since then he has lived in Boston, Houston, Ann Arbor, Berlin and New York, earning degrees from Harvard, Rice and the University of Michigan. This varied background has made him particularly sensitive to place, ecology and the strong emotional relationships that people forge with patterns in nature. He is also interested in memory and the various ways we tell stories, from emotional personal narratives to crisp and clean documentaries. Recent pieces have focused on reflections of the immigrant experience and the integration of recorded interviews with music."
We will also be featuring two pieces by Arvo Pärt, Magnificat and Estonian Lullaby, a selection of orchestral works, and three songs that are sung at the Estonian Song Festival, an event at which a chorus of 30,000 voices sings to an audience of 80,000!
This concert is sponsored by the Argosy Foundation and the Vermont Council on World Affairs.
Fall 2014 Concert Description
Solomon is an extraordinary piece. Written in 1748 at the height of Handel's fame as an oratorio composer, it is one of the less-frequently performed Handel oratorios. It tells three stories from the life of the biblical King Solomon rather than just one.
It is not known for certain who wrote the libretto, but the three stories are given marvelous musical treatment. In Act I, Solomon (an alto or countertenor role; we will have a countertenor) and Zadok the High Priest celebrate the completion of the Temple. After completion of the Temple, how does Solomon celebrate? By consummating his marriage with Pharaoh's daughter; the latter half of Act I is remarkable in its "explicitness with which it hymns the joys of the marriage bed." Act II tells the famous story of Solomon's judgement in the case of the two women who both claim a baby as their own. There is memorably affecting music in this part. Act III describes the visit from the Queen of Sheba and her wonder at the magnificence of Solomon's empire. In contrast to the sensual celebration of Solomon's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter in Act I, a curtain is drawn around what might have happened with the Queen of Sheba after Act III. (According to the Bible, Solomon had 300 wives and 700 concubines.)
Also not depicted in Handel's Solomon are Solomon's subsequent descent into idolatry. No, in Handel's Solomon, the title character is powerful, wise, sexy, and in a way, humble. Thanks to some over-the-top poetry, the characterization can sometimes border on Gilbert and Sullivan. Case in point: the Queen of Sheba sings to Solomon "Thy harmony's divine, great king/All obey the artist's string/And now illustrious prince receive/Such tribute as my realm can give./Here purest gold from earth's dark entrails torn/And gems resplendent that outshine the morn." But some of the greatest encomiums are saved for Mother Nature and her many charms, including a lovely chorus at the end of Act I as Solomon and his new queen sleep off their marriage exertions: "May no rash intruder disturb their soft hours/To form fragrant pillows, arise O ye flowers!/Ye zephyrs soft breathing their slumbers prolong/While nightingales lull them to sleep with their song."
Handel's music, in its infinite variety, is vivid throughout.
Spring 2014 Concert Description
We will perform the remarkable, influential, and almost-never-performed Grande Messe de Morts by the French composer François-Joseph Gossec, who lived a long and eventful life from 1734 to 1829. We can find no record of Gossec's Grande Messe de Morts having been performed in the United States since 1977, and yet this is a piece that made Gossec famous in France literally overnight. Mozart (very artfully) stole from Gossec in his famous Requiem composed in 1791 (Mozart and Gossec were friends), and Berlioz clearly had Gossec's thrilling brass writing in the "Tuba Mirum" section in his ear 77 years later when he wrote his famous Grande Messe de Morts in 1837.
Gossec always had a taste for the revolutionary, both musically and politically, and became one of the most important classical music figures in the French Revolution. For example, he scored his Te Deum for 1200 singers and 300 wind instruments, and several oratorios require the physical separation of multiple choirs, including invisible ones behind the stage. He wrote several works in honor of the French Revolution including Le Triomphe de la République, and L'Offrande à la Liberté.