Thursday, November 29, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/29/07

It's Thursday! Time to see how you should spend your weekend! In no particular order...

First and foremost, both because it's cool, and I think perhaps it has not been well advertised, the Longwood Symphony and New World Chorale will perform Janacek's Glagolitic Mass. Jordan Hall, Saturday at 8 pm. I am very sorry I am already tied up on Saturday, because this ought to be awesome. For more information on this piece, (hang on while I scan Google)...well, I can't find anything great in under a minute, so check out this review from the New York Times, and perhaps I will post a little cliff notes to this piece at a later date.

It is after Thanksgiving, and that means your holiday concert season has begun. Start things off with a bang by seeing Handel and Haydn perform Messiah at Symphony Hall! Friday at 7:30, Saturday at 3:00 pm, and Sunday at 3:00 pm.

On Friday and Sunday, the Boston Choral Ensemble is performing a concert called Madrigalia. This looks pretty cool, I must say. Friday at 8 at First Church Cambridge, and Sunday at 2 at the Church of St. John the Evangelist.

On Friday at 8 pm, the most excellent and esteemed (he's the director at the church where I sing!) Jonathan Barnhart leads the Dedham Chorale in A German Christmas. Check it out at St. Paul's Cathedral in Boston. They will perform the same program on Sunday at 3 pm in Dedham.

On Friday at 8 pm, the Arlington-Belmont Chamber Chorus presents "A Not Quite Winter Concerts" - music of Guerrero, Chatman, Barber, and Walker. Check it out at the Payson Park Church in Belmont.

On Saturday at 7:30, Polymnia Choral Society will perform "Midnight Mass for Christmas" by Marc-Antoine Charpentier as well as a set by Emma Lou Diemer. Charpentier is definitely one of those "greatest composers you've never heard of" people, so do make a point of trying to hear some of his music. (His struggles with the composer Lully are worth recounting at some point. Perhaps later this week...stay tuned.) That will be at the First Congregational Church in Melrose.

On Saturday at 8 pm, the Harvard-Radcliffe Chorus under Kevin Leong will perform some honking big Handel works at Sanders Theater. Who doesn't love honking big Handel, especially done as well as it undoubtably will be?

On Saturday at 8 pm, Musica Sacra under Mary Beekman will perform Bach's Magnificat at First Church Congregational in Harvard Square. Handel or Bach? Your life is tough.

On Saturday at 7 pm and Sunday at 4 at Old South United Methodist Church in Reading Center, the Reading Community Singers will perform a holiday concert called "Winter Wonders."

(I am already exhausted and we're not even at Sunday yet!)

On Saturday at 8 pm you can hear Beethoven's Choral Fantasy performed by the Northeastern University Choral Society at the Fenway Center.

Not quite choral, but on Saturday at 4 pm First Parish in Wayland presents Amahl and the Night Visitors. More info here.

Also not quite choral, but still worth mentioning - on Saturday at 7 pm at Longy, Robert Honeysucker, baritone, with Leslie Amper, pianist, perform American songs. More info here.

(Dear Lord, the list for Saturday is neverending!)

If you're near Brandeis on Saturday, go hear some Britten! If you're in Arlington, how about checking out a concert with Lorna Cooke deVaron? If you're in Worcester, go hear the Messiah! If you want to stay in Worcester through Sunday, you can hear more Handel (Judas Maccabaeus!)

On Sunday at 5 pm at Swedenborg Chapel in Cambridge, the Oriana Consort will perform In This Tyme of Chrystmas: Advent and Christmas choral music from the 17th, 20th, and 21st centuries, featuring works by Betinis, Buxtehude, Byrd and Vaughan Williams. Abbie Betinis is a very cool composer from MN. Also, I sing with her sister in Cappella Clausura!

On Sunday at 3 pm at First Parish UU Arlington, Cantilena is performing "Sing Me to Heaven: A Winter Concert."

I'm also going to give a shout-out to Juventas, even though they're not choral, because we like to support new music in this corner of the blogosphere. Friday, 8 pm, Boston Conservatory.

Finally, if all this is making you want to sing yourself, there will be an open sing by the Zamir Chorale on Sunday at 3 pm in Newton. Temple Reyim, 1860 Washington Street, Newton, MA. Scores are available, and included in the cost of admission, which is $10 ($8 stu/sen). You get to sing both Handel's Judas Maccabaeus and Berstein's Chichester Psalms. A good time! And if Judas Maccabaeus is a little too martial for you in these troubled times, there's a Messiah Sing at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Brookline - scores also provided there. (Although you'll still have to listen to the tenor singing about smashing people into little bits like pottery, so violence is hard to avoid.)

Never fear, though. If you want a quiet and peaceful end to your weekend, go to Schola Nocturna's Night Prayer at Parish of the Messiah in Newton. I promise nobody will smash anybody.

The truth is that there is even more exciting stuff than that going on this weekend, but I am just too tired to keep going, so check out the Boston Singer's Resource concert listings for some stuff I might have missed. I may have to make this a sort of "Editor's Picks" weekly thing rather than covering all your possible concert options! I'm too tired to even proof-read this entry. If somebody's made it this far, tell me if there were any typos.

Remember, your motto for concerts at Christmas should be that old chestnut by Edward Everett: "I cannot do everything, But still I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." So get out there and listen to some music...because after all, the person you are doing it for is yourself!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nick Page

My apologies for not giving a concert update last week. I was out of town, stuffing myself with stuffing. And besides, you were all too comatose with food to even think of leaving the house, right? Right. So we will all just ignore the fact that we missed Chanticleer on Sunday at Jordan Hall, and we are not at all heart-broken about this fact. (I seem to have bad luck actually finding out about Chanticleer concerts in time - I haven't made it to one yet, despite the fact that I adore their recordings.)

Perhaps you will forgive me if I tip you off that Steve Reich is in residence at NEC, and this week will feature two performances. Mostly this is not choral music (although Music for Eighteen Musicians does feature female voices) but Steve Reich is just too cool not to mention, even if this were a blog about knitting or Nascar or something.

And finally, the Boston Globe today had a nice piece about Nick Page, local powerhouse choral conductor. If you ever have the chance to go to one of his power sings, do so - he is one of the most dynamic and charismatic conductors around. And we all wish him well at his Carnegie Hall debut!

Monday, November 19, 2007

RIP Craig Smith

Oh, no! Craig Smith, founder and artistic director of Emmanuel Music, died last Wednesday, Nov. 14, of complications from diabetes. The obituary in the Boston Globe is here.

This is a sad loss - Emmanuel Music is one of the best and most respected groups in Boston, and Craig Smith was a giant of the Boston musical scene. He'll be sorely missed.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Schizophonic auditions!

Pinafore ended its run yesterday, and a fine, fine run it was. Massive kudos are due to everyone I got to work with - it was a great experience.

But that was yesterday, and this is today! Time for new projects, new horizons! My professional women's group that I started last spring is having auditions on 12/1 - come one, come all! Here is that ad that I have been sending to everyone I know. Please feel free to copy and forward to everyone you've ever met.

Professional women's vocal group seeks female singers

Schizophonic, a professional women's vocal group, is looking for new singers. Our goal is to sing all sorts of music, ranging from medieval to barbershop. We would like to find other professional classical singers who have an interest in branching out into other genres of music such as folk and jazz, but are also at home picking up something by Josquin or Britten and sight-reading it.

Our plan is to have several concerts a year, where we will split the proceeds, and also to concentrate on putting together shorter programs appropriate for schools. Our goal for school gigs is to have 1-2 a month, and to have each singer paid $100 for each gig. Eventually we hope to get on the Young Audiences roster, and hopefully get even more work that way.

Currently we have one mezzo and one soprano. We would ideally like to form a quartet, with one more mezzo and one more soprano. We are looking for trained solo voices with fantastic musicianship and very sharp sight-reading skills. In terms of vocal size, we are looking for Bach rather than Berlioz. We also hope to find other people who love singing chamber music, and are willing to make a commitment to the group. We are also interested in putting together a guest-artist list of singers who might be interested in one or two gigs if we decide to do something bigger requiring more than four singers. However, our main goal is to find two new permanent members.

Auditions will be December 1st from 10 am - 3 pm. If that time doesn't work for you, please contact us anyways - we'd love to hear everyone, and can be very flexible about setting up individual auditions! Contact Allegra Martin by phone (617) 872-0461 or leave a comment!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/15/07

It's still technically Thursday, and time for the Weekend Choral Concert Calendar!

Well, Friday is looking a little scanty, so perhaps you will have nothing to do. Oh, no, but wait! HMS Pinafore at MIT is still going on! This is your last weekend to see yours truly conducting a G&S classic! Friday at 8 pm and Saturday at 2 pm – details here!

On Saturday, however, you are spoiled for choice. Let’s take a look.

I think my top pick would be the Spectrum Singers. They will be kicking off the Christmas season a little early, it’s true, but just look at the program. "Sound the Trumpets!": A festive celebration of the Christmas season with organ, brass, and percussion. Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms; Schutz's Psalm 150: Alleluia, Lobet dem Herrn, SWV 24; Boulanger's Psaume 24; Daniel Pinkham's Christmas Cantata, and more. A good time, indeed (and they get mad points for performing Boulanger. That would be Lili, btw, the composer sister of the more famous Nadia. She died at a young age, or she might have been better known.) The performance will be at 8 pm at First Church Congregational in Cambridge. More details here.

The Brookline Chorus is performing Carmina Burana! Always a good time! They are doing the two piano version. 8 pm at All Saints Parish in Brookline – more info is here.

The Mystic Chorale, under Nick Page (local choral celebrity!) is performing at 8 pm in Lexington at Cary Memorial Hall. The highlight will be a premiere of a Beatitudes setting by Jonathan Singleton. Support new music! More details here. They will also perform on Sunday at 3:30.

The Newton Choral Society will perform music of Daniel Pinkham at Our Lady Help of Christians Church in Newton at 8 pm. More info is here.

The Cantemus Chamber Chorus is performing at 7:30 pm in Hamilton – works of Pfautsch, Bass, Bach, Górecki, Schuman. (I’ve never even heard of Pfautsch and Bass – a true opportunity to educate yourself in some lesser-known composers! Górecki, if you are unfamiliar, has some great choral pieces.) More info here. They will perform again on Sunday in Newburyport at 4 pm.

And what about Sunday?

My top pick here is for the Sounds of Stow. They will perform Haydn’s Creation at 3 pm in Stow Center. Good things are being said about the soloists, and I was quite impressed at a SoS concert a few years back. And let’s not forget that any brilliant trumpet-playing you here will be my father! More information is here.

I mentioned Cantemus and Mysic above, of course – in addition, you can hear the Fine Arts Chorale at 4 pm in South Weymouth (I know nothing about this group) or the Heritage Chorale at 4 pm at Babson College performing Gabrieli, Bruckner, and Pinkham.

And the weekend ends late – at 8 pm on Sunday the MIT Chamber Chorus will perform in Kresge Auditorium…and this concert is FREE! More information is here.

Also, let’s carry on a little further, shall we? Because ironically, the most highly anticipated event of the weekend falls on Monday night. At 8 pm at Symphony Hall, Thomas Quastoff is performing with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in Boston’s Celebrity Series. I try to only report choral music concerts, b/c it takes enough time to just do that, but hey, this deserves an exception. Hie the over there – tickets are still available! And then on Tuesday, Renée Fleming joins the BSO…I really must stop and get to bed.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Pinafore opening night

I am pleased to report that the Pinafore opening night went well, and my baton only flew out of my hand once.

Also, I just added a widget from Women's Voices, Women's Vote below. If you, like me, feel bad about missing the most recent local elections , and if you, like me, have moved recently and haven't re-registered yet, get to it! Don't forget that your vote affects arts funding and educational funding. (The latter probably has even more of an impact on music and the arts in general than the former.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Pinafore! And Weekend Concert Calendar, 11/8/07

Oh, no! It is technically no longer Thursday, and I haven't yet advised you on what to do this weekend!

Well, I haven't advised because I was at the final dress rehearsal for a production of HMS Pinafore that I am conducting at MIT. So obviously, the top pick for this weekend is Gilbert and Sullivan! The show is running 11/9 and 11/10 at 8 pm, 11/11 at 2 pm, and next weekend, 11/15 and 11/16 at 8 pm, and 11/17 at 2 pm. You can reserve (but not buy) tickets online. And I heartily encourage everyone to come! The leads and chorus are all excellent, and I'm greatly enjoying working with the orchestra. It is an all-amateur production, but it is remarkably tight. (When the female leads are either students or recent grads of Boston Conservatory, you know you're beginning to blur the line of amateur!)

And what is happening in the rest of Boston? Have the cliff-notes version! (We are concentrating on Boston proper here, b/c it is late and I am tired. Apologies to Andover, Fitchburg, and others.)

The Boston Secession

The Cantata Singers
Chorus Pro Musica
Coro Allegro
The Harvard Early Music Society presents Purcell's King Arthur
The Adam Mickiewicz University Academic Choir (at Boston College)
More G&S! The Savoyard Light Opera Company is putting on The Gondoliers!
The University Chorale of Boston College
African Children's Choir (through Celebrity Series of Boston)
Seraphim Singers
Ars et Amici

Why yes, it is a remarkably strong weekend - you noticed that too? In any weekend that features both the Secession and the Cantata Singers, you are spoiled for choice. Throw in two different Gilbert and Sullivan shows, and Chorus Pro Musica, and Seraphim Singers, and it starts getting ridiculous how much good music you can hear.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Complaints Choirs

Now here's something new - Complaints Choirs!

"It all got started during a winter day walk of Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Helsinki. Perhaps it was due to the coldness of the day that they ended up discussing the possibility of transforming the huge energy people put into complaining into something else. Perhaps not directly into heat – but into something powerful anyway.

In the Finnish vocabulary there is an expression "Valituskuoro". It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen thought: "Wouldn´t it be fantastic to take this expression literally and organise a real Complaints Choir!""

And so a movement began.

Scandinavia is a great place for choral music. Apparently it's also a great place for humor!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Location, location

I'm happy to say that the Cappella Clausura concerts this past weekend went very well. However, it was a bit of an education in the effects that location can have on one's performance.

One hears a lot about the difficulties that can arise from performing in a new and different space. I've always been aware of acoustics - places can be live and echoing, or dead and muffled, and sometimes huge acoustic differences can have a very problematic effect on diction, cutoffs, rhythm, etc. In addition, standing can be awkward, places can be too hot, cold, drafty, damp, or dry; sightlines can be messed up; etc, etc. However, I can't previously recall having my comfort level with the music substantially affected.

Well, on Friday we sang in Gordon Chapel at Old South Church, and I was just sloppy. I sang a few wrong words; I missed a cut-off mid-phrase that's a particular pet peeve of mine when other people miss it; I missed the note order on one quick lick of eighth notes. I frequently had flashes of that feeling that occasionally affects musicians everywhere: "Have I really ever seen this music before?" I sincerely doubt any of this was noticeable from the audience - it was really a series of very subtle mistakes - but I felt quite dissatisfied, and wondered what was wrong with me.

On Saturday, we sang in our rehearsal space, the Parish of the Messiah in Newton. I stood in the same place for rehearsal that I've stood for the last several weeks. And presto - I felt comfortable, and strong. No more mistakes. I wasn't the only one, either - the entire concert was much tighter and more confident. It could have been because we'd just done it the night before, but it was also because we felt at home. I didn't realize until Saturday that I had been thrown off-kilter in my music-making by my surroundings on Friday. It's a good thing to learn, and a strong argument, when I conduct and need to make these decisions, for having the dress rehearsal in the performance space.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Weekend concert calendar, 11/1/07

Taking some time out from a busy rehearsal schedule, I bring you the weekend concert calendar!

Obviously, your priority should be the Cappella Clausura concert on Friday at Old South Church at 7:30 pm, and on Saturday at Parish of the Messiah at 8 pm. Eight beautiful women in red singing gorgeous music…how can you resist? Details on the Cappella Clausura website.

If you see Clausura on Friday, then you have some options for the rest of the weekend. The Back Bay Chorale, directed by Scott Jarrett, is going to perform…heck, I’ll just quote from the Boston Choral Consortium website: Haydn's Lord Nelson Mass plus instrumental and choral works by Finzi, Holst, and Herbert Howells' "Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing," an elegy dedicated to the memory of John F. Kennedy. Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury Street, Boston. Tickets: $20 to $45 ($5 discount for students and seniors). Scott is greatly admired as a conductor by all who have sung under him (including me) so this is a concert to be recommended.

Wellesley College is performing Bach’s Magnificat on Saturday at 8:00 pm. The chorus will consist of the Wellesley College Choir, Chamber Singers, and the University of Virginia Men’s Glee Club. At First Church Congregational in Cambridge. More information here.

It must be a good weekend for university choral music, because Brandeis too is getting into the action. On Saturday at 8 pm on the Waltham campus, they will perform works by Palestrina and Bach. This is directed by Jim Olesen, one of my favorite Boston conductors, and the guy who first made me think of seriously trying to becoming a professional conductor myself. More details here. (Info is halfway down the page.)

On Sunday at 3 pm, if you didn’t get enough Poulenc two weeks ago with the Boston Cecilia, you have another chance! Seraphim Singers is performing Poulenc’s Mass in G at Holy Name Parish in West Roxbury. More information here. I sang with this group for one concert, and they are ridiculously talented musicians. It is largely a chorus of church musicians who get together and do all the music they love that's too hard for them to do with their church choirs. I sang the hardest piece I've ever sung with them, a piece by Elliott Gyger.

On Sunday at 3 pm, the Masterworks Chorale, directed by Steven Karidoyanes, will perform Schumann’s Mass Op. 147, and Requiem Op. 148. The performance will be in Sanders Theater in Cambridge, which is a great space. More details here.

On Sunday at 4 pm, the Worcester Chorus, under Andrew Clark, will perform sacred works by British and American composers as part of the Worcester Music Festival. More details here.

And finally, if you are out in Westwood this Sunday, there will be a performance of the Faure Requiem at 3 pm at First Parish of Westwood. More details here.

So don't let the threat of Noel spook you! Get out there and support your fabulous, artistic city!