Friday, October 21, 2011

“An Occasion of Remarkable Beauty”

This Sunday, October 23, I’ll be singing in CONCORA’s season-opening performance, “An Extraordinary Concert,” in which CONCORA joins forces with six outstanding young choral ensembles to present to present exceptional choral repertoire in a beautiful setting. The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the acoustically resplendent sanctuary of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in West Hartford, Connecticut.

The project is a wonderful opportunity for talented high school and college students to rehearse and perform great choral music with the professional singers of CONCORA, under the direction of CONCORA’s Artistic Director, Richard Coffey. The Extraordinary Series had its début in 1993 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, and continued there until 1998. This weekend’s concert is the second in our renewed presentation of this series.

For the 2011 edition of the Extraordinary Series, 150 singers will be on stage: Thirty singers from CONCORA, the twenty-strong University Singers from Central Connecticut State University, and 100 singers who are members of the select choirs from Hall High School in West Hartford, Ledyard High School, Lyme/Old Lyme High School, Manchester High School, and Westbrook High School. We’ll perform with piano, with two organs, and on our own, unaccompanied. I’ve appended the program list at the end of this post.

In my greeting to the audience at last year’s “Extraordinary Concert,” I offered some thoughts on the idea of the “extraordinary.” Those remarks apply just as well to this year’s event, so here they are again (with updated numbers):
Now, the last element in that list of “extraordinary riches” is, of course, you, our audience. I hope you can be part of our extraordinary experience this weekend. Tickets are selling briskly! Call the CONCORA office 860-293-0567 to reserve your place, or purchase tickets online at Discounts are available for students and groups of eight or more.

In his notes to the singers last year, Maestro Coffey promised that this performance would be “an occasion of remarkable beauty,” and I can tell you that his promise will be fulfilled in an extraordinary way.

Don’t miss what one person has called “the most awesome listening experience!”


An Extraordinary Concert
Sunday, October 23, 2011 – 7:30 p.m.
Church of St. Thomas the Apostle, West Hartford 860.293.0567

Antiphonal Music for Combined Choirs

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
“Heilig ist Gott der Herr Zebaoth!”

The High School and University Choirs

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
“Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” from Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben (BWV 147).

Tomás Luis de Victoria (1548–1611)
“O magnum mysterium”

Z. Randall Stroope (b. 1953)
“Lamentations of Jeremiah”

Music by The University Singers

Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621)
“Gaudete omnes”

Luca Marenzio (1553-1599)
“Dissi a l'amata mia lucida stella”

Dan Campolieta
Settings of Dickinson texts:
“Will There Really be a ‘Morning’?”
“Wild Nights!”

Music by CONCORA

Franz Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)
“Abendlied zu Gott” (“Evening Song to God”)

Jean Berger (1909-2002)
“Alleluia!” from Psalmo Brasileiro (Brazilian Psalm)

Pablo Casals (1876-1973)
“O vos omnes”

Edward Tyler
“Saint Teresa’s Bookmark”

Alice Parker (b. 1925)
“Hark! I Hear the Harps Eternal”

The Combined Choirs

Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)
“Kyrie” from Messe Solennelle (1878, Op. 36)

Morton Lauridsen (b. 1943
“O magnum mysterium”

Harry T. Burleigh (1866–1949)
“My Lord, what a mornin”

Brazeal Dennard (b. 1929)
“Fare Ye Well”
According to Webster, something that is “extraordinary” is “beyond or out of the common order…not usual or customary,” and this program is indeed unusual in that it brings together amateur and professional singers who might not ordinarily have an opportunity to perform together.

But the second definition of “extraordinary” — given by Webster as “exceeding the common degree... remarkable… rare… and wonderful” — is equally, if not more, applicable, for in designing this program, Maestro Coffey has had extraordinary riches at hand:
  • 120 talented high school and college singers from communities where the arts are held in high esteem
  • 6 dedicated choral directors who have worked with CONCORA for nearly a year to bring this program to you
  • 30 skilled CONCORA artists
  • A sampling of some of the world’s most stirring choral music, and
  • A beautiful, acoustically resplendent sanctuary in which to showcase it all

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