Arts Chorale presents Bach and much more
Posted: December 7, 2012
The Winchester Star
Winchester — The Arts Chorale of Winchester is bringing the sweets sounds of a classical Christmas to its annual fall concert.
The group will begin its 12th season with “Bach and More for the Holidays” at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday in Shenandoah University’s Armstrong Concert Hall, 1460 University Drive, said Gordon Stearns, concert manager.
The feature of the show will be a performance of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Magnificat in D” with the more than 60-member choir and professional orchestra and soloists, he said. The choir will sing several other classical songs to instill the Christmas spirit.
“Other than the Bach, the pieces are more spiritual in nature,” Stearns said.
The Troubadours from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge will be the guest choir participants for the performance.
Admission is by a $10 donation at the door.
The choir also will be selling a CD it released in October, “Pop, Swing & a Little Jazz,” which was recorded this fall. It features the music the group played at its spring concert. CDs are $10.
“Magnificat” is one of Bach’s masterpieces and is a beautiful but difficult work to perform, said Jen Volkmann of Frederick County, chair of publicity. The song was written in 1723 for Christmas Vespers but later revised to make it suitable for use year round and changed from E flat to D.
“As a singer, it is probably the most challenging piece I have ever done, so there is a lot of reward in that for us just to perform something so beautiful and different,” said Volkmann of Frederick County.
The Bach orchestra is comprised of Shenandoah Conservatory faculty and other professionals throughout the region, said Michael Main, artistic director. The concert will feature five soloists — Tommy Tutwiler, who leads the Troubadours, and four graduates and voice faculty from the conservatory.
The chorale will perform “Sweet Little Jesus Boy” by Robert MacGimsey, Main said. The song is usually sung as a solo, but Main said he found a “stunningly beautiful choral arrangement” by Ken Berg last year and knew he had to program it. Jason Labrador, one of the chorale’s tenors, will be the soloist.
“He will sing the first half of the concert, then play violin in the orchestra for the Bach. Jason wears many musical hats, and all of them quite well,” Main said.
While searching through a choral music exhibit this summer, Main found an arrangement by local composer William Averitt of “Star in the East,” which is set to a Southern Harmony hymn tune. It was published this year, though it was written several years ago.
Main thought it would be a perfect piece for the Vocal Consort, an auditioned chamber choir of 20 singers; all are members of the larger chorale. The group will also perform “In Dulci Jubilo” by Matthew Culloton.
Both the chorale and the Troubadours are singing “Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day,” but they will be two very different renditions, Volkmann said. The Troubadours will perform Sir David Willcocks’ arrangement of the piece, while the chorale will use the more well-known version arranged by John Gardner.
Other songs the Troubadours will sing are Hans Leo Hassler’s “Verbum Caro Factum Est,” Alice Parker and Robert Shaw’s traditional French arrangements of “Masters in This Hall” and “Here, Mid the Ass and Oxen Mild,” and Nicolas Saboly’s carol, “Touro-Louro-Louro!”
Main and Tutwiler are longtime friends and colleagues who sang together in an eight piece a capella group in the mid-1990s and have stayed in touch.
Tutwiler’s group is a sizeable school choir, and working with them gives the chorale the opportunity to broaden the work it does, Stearns said.
“We are trying to not only broaden the audience we have but the potential membership,” he said.
One addition to the chorale’s numbers this year was special for Stearns — his son, Sam, 17, a senior at Handley High School. The young bass joins his father, a tenor, and grandmother, Marilyn Stearns, who is a soprano and one of the founding members.
“It has been great fun,” Stearns said. “I have sung with my mother for a number of years, and now I have my son singing with us.”
The Arts Chorale of Winchester’s “Bach and More for the Holidays” concert will be presented at 8 p.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday in Shenandoah University’s Armstrong Concert Hall, 1460 University Drive. Admission is by a $10 donation at the door.
For more information, go to artschoralewinchester.org.
— Contact Laura McFarland at email@example.com