WomenSing rings in the season of light and joy with Ring the Bells, a festive celebration of song accompanied by Latin percussion, chimes, and timpani. The program opens with Bullard’s Ring the Bells in a “surround the audience” effect of chimes and voices, immediately followed by the grandeur of O Viridissima Virga by composer Emma Lou Diemer, based on Hildegard Von Bingen texts. Diemer, an important figure in American choral music of the 20th century and the present time, is WomenSing’s featured composer for the 2014-2015 season.
We add Latin American spice with selections including the beautiful Mexican lullaby, Señora Santa Ana, and the fun of Cantemos a María from the Dominican Republic. The concert closes with Rutter’s exquisite Candlelight Carol, sung in the round.
WomenSing’s second annual Treble Voices Now new music festival features the first public reading of Pirhekua, a new work by Mexican-born composer José-Luis Hurtado, jointly commissioned by WomenSing and woodwind ensemble Quinteto Latino.
This lively work for woodwind quintet and treble voices is one of the traditional music genres of the native people of the state of Michoacán in the Southwest of Mexico. It means “song” in their language, Purhépecha. The piece takes fragments from different popular tunes and the characteristic rhythmic pattern combining them with a more elaborated harmony as well as occasional dissonances to make it sound as a “banda de pueblo.”
Treble Voices Now offers the public an opportunity to participate in a free public workshop with composer Hurtado and guest artists Quinteto Latino (Armando Castellano, artistic director). After the workshop, the public is invited to the Festival Concert featuring WomenSing, along with the Contra Costa Children’s Chorus and Acalanes High School’s Bella Voce and Women’s Ensemble.
WomenSing culminates the exploration of Latin American music with traditional and unexpected gems, this time exclusively from the Americas. Quinteto Latino, the outstanding Latin wind quintet, joins WomenSing for the premiere of a new piece co-commissioned by both groups, Pirhekua, composed by José-Luis Hurtado. We’ll also add the wit and style of Emma Lou Diemer’s Five Limericks, some southern camp meeting songs, and a bit of Manhattan Transfer.
Pirhekua, composed by José-Luis Hurtado and co-commissioned by WomenSing and Quinteto Latino, derives from one of the traditional music genres of the native people of the State of Michoacán in the Southwest of Mexico. The title means “song” in their language, Purhépecha. The piece takes fragments from different popular tunes and the characteristic rhythmic pattern to mimic the sounds of a banda de pueblo. La Lluvia (the rain) is a folk melody from Ecuador, traditionally played on the siku—the double row of panpipes. The piece spirals out of a few repeating patterns, interweaving riffs create a soundscape of rain. Emma Lou Diemer’s wit and style are on full display in Five Limericks, a collection of short musical settings of limericks by her sister Dorothy Diemer Hendry (1918-2006). Diemer is WomenSing’s featured composer of the 2014-15 season. Tuxedo Junction and A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square were hits for Glenn Miller and his orchestra in 1940’s, and more recently for The Manhattan Transfer. Tuxedo Junction tells the story of a jazz and blues club in the Birmingham, Alabama suburb of Ensley, an area referred to as “Tuxedo Junction.”