Saturday, April 27, 2019, St. Michael Church, Wheaton Sunday, April 28, 2019, Baker Memorial Church, St. Charles
St. Charles Singers to Bring ‘Victorian Flourish’
to Season-Finale Concerts
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ST. CHARLES, Ill., Feb. 22, 2019 — The St. Charles Singers will conclude their 35th concert season with an eclectic program of Victorian-era choral works, both secular and sacred, from the British Isles, the U.S., France, and Germany.
The mixed-voice professional chamber choir conducted by Jeffrey Hunt will present its “Victorian Flourish” concerts 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 27, 2019, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 310 S. Wheaton Ave., Wheaton, Illinois, and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles.
“The Victorian era was a Renaissance for choral music,” Hunt says of the period marked by the reign of Britain’s Queen Victoria from 1837 to 1901.
Unique Musical Personalities
Hunt says the era’s celebration of individual artistic expression and embrace of unique musical personalities is reflected in the works chosen for Victorian Flourish, the St. Charles Singers’ first-ever program devoted to music by a broad range of composers from a specific historical period.
Charles Woods’ famous Anglican Church anthem for double choir, “Hail Gladdening Light,” opens the program, followed by two works by Felix Mendelssohn. These include the German composer’s Drei Geistliche Lieder (Three Sacred Songs) for alto soloist, choir, and organ; and the fourth movement from his Sonata No. 1 for solo organ. Written in 1844, it was considered extraordinary in its day. St. Charles Singers organist Michael Giuliani calls it a “brilliant” work “with “pianistic arpeggios throughout, previously unseen in organ literature.”
American composer Horatio Parker was a student of Germany’s Josef Rheinberger. Parker’s “Jam Sol Recedit” (Now Sinks the Sun) and Rheinberger’s “Abendlied” (Bide With Us) “share a richness of color and musical expression indicative of choral music of this period,” choirmaster Hunt says.
Charles Villiers Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in G Major, Op. 81, are among the works he wrote for the extraordinary cathedral choirs of Cambridge, England.
Playful French Songs
Hunt calls Claude Debussy’s whimsical, imaginative “Trois Chansons” (Three Songs) “a remarkable time machine that skillfully brings Renaissance-style singing into the 20th century.” The songs are based on playful poems about feminine beauty, early morning fatigue, and winter’s unpleasantness.
After singing Henry Leslie’s sweetly nostalgic “Charm Me Asleep,” the choir will perform several part songs, which are a cappella works on non-religious themes. Typically, one choir section sings the melody and the other voices sing harmony. R.O. Morris’s “Blow away the Morning Dew” is a fun-loving outing in the style of an English madrigal. Frederick Delius’s charming and transcendent “Two Songs to be sung of a summer night on the water” are vocalises — songs without words — where the choir sings the syllable “ah” under a tenor solo. Stanford’s “The Blue Bird” evokes an aerial view of a quiet lake.
The concert concludes with Hubert Parry’s “I was Glad when they said unto me,” an anthem played at all British coronations since the early 1900s.
Tickets and Information
Single tickets for Victorian Flourish s are $35 adult general admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.
Tickets and general information about the St. Charles Singers are available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.
St. Charles Singers
Founded and directed by Jeffrey Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a professional chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The mixed-voice choir launched in St. Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers. ClassicsToday.com calls the ensemble “one of North America’s outstanding choirs,” citing “charisma and top-notch musicianship” that “bring character and excitement to each piece.” Chicago Tribune classical music critic John von Rhein described the ensemble as “splendidly disciplined, beautifully responsive” and proclaimed, “Chamber chorus singing doesn’t get much better than this.”