From flares and fireflies to more introspective illuminations, our wonderfully fresh holiday concert, IN LUMINE (In Light) is the choral event to anticipate this holiday season. Guest Conductor Jeremiah Selvey steps to the podium to direct WomenSing on Sunday, December 15 at 4:00 pm (First Congregational Church of Berkeley, 2345 Channing Way, Berkeley) and on Wednesday, December 18, at 8:00 pm (Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church, 49 Knox Drive, Lafayette). Recently named Artistic Director of Oakland-East Bay Gay Men’s Chorus, Selvey brings his artistry and energy to WomenSing as the group performs works for treble voices that celebrate the presence and wonder of light.
The full spectrum of light will shimmer in the various hues the repertoire and vocal technique of this special performance yield. Full, robust and romantic elements abound in Imant Raminsh’s Missa Brevis in C Minor. From string-like melodies and cluster chords painting the holiness and beauty of the Mother (Ivo Antognini’s Ave Maris Stella) to the orchestral-like treatment of voices in Karen Thomas’ motet collection of Hildegaard von Bingen texts (Lux Lucis), the light of spirit, sun, flame, and radiant heat are portrayed in a sound world that is not to be missed. The fire’s light in Dale Trumbore’s – a former winner of our Youth Inspiring Youth composition competition – Flare will rush to catch you!
Guest baritone Stephen Lancaster will solo in a sparkling new arrangement of Moses Hogan’s beloved This Little Light of Mine.
Many music lovers in and around the Bay Area are choral singers and enjoy attending the concerts of a long list of choral organizations that so beautifully perform in our area. Now there is an opportunity for singers, composers, conductors, music educators and general public to enjoy a new choral festival. This inaugural festival, Treble Voices Now, hosted by WomenSing, will explore contemporary classical music that is specifically written for upper-voiced choirs.
The Festival begins with the Youth Inspiring Youth Workshop on Friday. Audience members will enjoy watching the process that occurs to fine-tune two new compositions from this year’s Youth Inspiring Youth – Commissioning Emerging Composers competition winners, Chris Castro and Jordan Nelson. Members of WomenSing will perform Chris’ piece while all the choruses present are involved in Jordan’s piece. The young composers will describe their works and explain such structural decisions as key changes and particular phrasing with the poetry and text in mind. The singers will become involved in trying out proposed changes as composers and our clinicians experiment and arrive at the next stage of the product.
On Saturday morning, the Festival continues with a new set of activities designed to offer an intimate view of how choral pieces are created and rehearsed. There will be two “Meet the Composer” forums where members of the audience can hear from our two Youth Inspiring Youth composers, Jordan Nelson and Chris Castro, about their experiences as composers and musicians. The discussion will not be limited to their work on the YIY pieces and each session will have a Q&A period. The “Meet the Composer” session takes place at 11:00 and will be repeated at 11:45.
Also on Saturday morning, our guest clinician Cristian Grases will lead clinics with each of the four TVN choirs separately. The singers and Cristian will work on important pieces from each chorus’ repertoire of contemporary music. In the gala concert that concludes the Festival, all the participating choruses will showcase their own innovative repertoire. The new YIY compositions – still in progress – will be introduced to a broader audience.
For its final concert of the 2013-14 season, WomenSing takes a diverse choral journey featuring music that meditates on the awe of nature, expresses the human yearning for freedom, and continues the chorus’ exploration of Latin American music.
The graceful lyricism and subtle harmonic shifts of Gabriel Fauré’s Messe Basse (short or low mass) opens the program, along with his exceptionally beautiful Cantique de Jean Racine, written when Fauré was 19 years old. A set of flower songs evokes the beauty of nature, contrasting a setting of e.e. cummings’ poem in time of daffodils by the American composer Kirstina Rasmussen with two songs by Carlos Guastavino, the Argentinean composer dubbed the “Schubert of the Pampas” because of his song-writing skill. Joan Szymko’s piece, Only Light Only Love, uses text from a sermon by Dr. Martin Luther King in a moving meditation on the power of nonviolence in the struggle for freedom: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.”
A special concert highlight will be the world premieres of compositions by Chris Castro and Jordan Nelson, the winners of WomenSing’s 2013 Youth Inspiring Youth competition. The text of these compositions is provided by award-winning children’s poetry from River of Words, a project of the Center for Environmental Literacy at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. For his composition, Chris Castro chose Poseidon’s Steeds by Allegra Hyde. Jordan Nelson’s composition, Our Only Sun, features text from Ten Ways of Looking at the Sun by Sophie Anderson. His composition evokes the celestial majesty and our terrestrial experience of the sun—one of many stars.
The concert closes on a joyful note with the danceable rhythms of the traditional Colombian folk song, Maquerule, and an Argentinean tango!