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Choral music: VocalEssence, the Singers announce 2014-15 seasons

  • Article by: Graydon Royce
  • Star Tribune
  • March 28, 2014 - 2:04 PM

Two of the Twin Cities’ leading vocal choruses have announced their programs for the 2014-15 season.

VocalEssence opens Oct. 26 featuring music of Minnesota composers Dominick Argento, Stephen Paulus and Libby Larsen. In addition, hip-hop artist Dessa makes her choral premiere.

The Ensemble Singers will tour with broadcaster Don Shelby in “River Songs and Tales With Mark Twain.” The show will visit four Minnesota towns — Faribault, Austin, Red Wing and Dawson — Nov. 13-16. It also will be featured at a May 2 fundraiser on the Minnesota Centennial Show Boat.

On Nov. 22, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, founded by Francisco J. Núñez will be presented.

The Welcome Christmas program (Dec. 5-7, 13-14) will feature a Nordic theme with fiddler Sara Pajunen. A new Christmas cantata, “A Light in the Stable” by British composer Alan Bullard, will feature narration by actor Katherine Ferrand. The family concert, “Star of Wonder,” will be Dec. 13.

Next years’ Witness program (Feb. 8) will bring the Grammy-winning vocal group Sounds of Blackness to the stage with VocalEssence.

Composer Jake Heggie’s new vocal opera “The Radio Hour” will be performed March 14-15 at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. The show will feature a salute to Fred Waring, the bandleader and radio host.

Musician Peter Schickele brings his P.D.Q. Bach show to VocalEssence April 10, in a celebration of Schickele’s 80th birthday. P.D.Q. Bach is Schickele’s creation of a character who is an offspring of the famous composer. The University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble joins VocalEssence in the show.

The Cantaré! Community Concert will be May 21, with music from Mexican composers.

www.vocalessence.org, or 612-371-5642.

The Singers, led by artistic director Matthew Culloton, will bookend their season with new music from Kevin Puts, the Pulitzer-Prize winner for “Silent Night” and Craig Carnahan, the Twin Cities-based choral composer.

The season opens with Puts’ nine-movement suite “To Touch the Sky,” featuring texts from women poets including Emily Bronte and Christina Rossetti. The program, Oct. 18, 19 and 24, also includes work by Minnesota composer Jake Runestad.

The Christmas program, Dec. 6-7 and 13-14, features Hugo Distler’s variations on “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming,” Rene Clausen’s “Magnificat” and Herbert Howell’s “A Spotless Rose.”

The music of Brahms is featured Feb. 21.

William Byrd’s “Mass for Five Voices,” along with works by Thomas Tallis, Thomas Tomkins and Orlando Gibbons, is featured in a program of music from Tudor England April 11, 12 and 18.

The season ends May 29-30 with the first collaboration between the Singers and Zeitgeist, the new-music ensemble. The two groups will perform the world premiere of Carnahan’s “Ghost Camp,” which is based on Walt Whitman’s Civil War poetry. The program features bass James Ramlet.

www.singersmca.org or 651-917-1948.

Graydon Royce • 612-673-7299

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