Chamber Singers of Iowa City

The Chamber Singers of Iowa City will present “Vignettes” at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 at First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester Ave. in Iowa City.

A vignette can be described as a brief scene, an account or an episode. In this concert, a vignette can also be a moment or a reverie. The five vignettes of the concert’s title describe concepts or conditions that are common to all humans: “Music,” “Night,” “Troubled Thoughts,” “Faith” and “Love.”

Music director David Puderbaugh has chosen works dating from the early Renaissance to the present day to reveal different aspects of each idea. For example, under the vignette “Music,” he has chosen Lloyd Pfautsch’s rousing “Consecrate the Place and Day,” John Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music” and William Billings’ “Modern Music.” It should be pointed out that Billings’ idea of “modern music” may not match your own — he is often considered America’s first true choral composer, having lived in the 18th century. His description of what to listen for in music — from range to melody, harmony and meter — are all laid out very carefully and sung by the chorus to demonstrate their use. It is as true today as it was then.

“Night” introduces the listener to Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg, whose “Õhtul” (“In the Evening”) begins, “The birds fall silent along with the wind, flowers fall asleep in the arms of dew,” and we immediately begin to slip into a sweet undulation with Uusberg’s tender chords and alternating meters.

Many concertgoers will recognize Samuel Barber’s “Sure on this Shining Night,” a moving, mystical piece that describes a host of emotions and invites us to imagine shadows on stars! Continuing in the star theme, the Singers perform Mendelssohn’s “There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob,” based on the Book of Numbers 24:17. Beginning as a sweeping, triumphant prophecy, it moves in its second section to a darker, threatening theme — the destruction of princes and nations — then returns to sweeping chords and joyous music, and ends in blessing and praise.

Randall Thompson’s “Choose Something Like a Star” completes the theme of this vignette with music set to Robert Frost’s poem, part of the “Frostiana” compilation.

“Troubled Thoughts” begins with Brahms’ “Nächtens.” A delirium of 32 notes in the piano accompaniment in driving five-four meter carries us on an all-too-familiar ride for most of us on occasion: “At night awaken those wandering, deceptive phantoms that bewilder the mind. At night grief and worry nestle within your heart and the morning gazes in upon tears.” Troubled thoughts, indeed. The last two vignettes, “Faith” and “Love,” are far gentler on the nerves with familiar works by Haydn, Palestrina, Martini, Schumann, Dello Joio and a humorous look at love, “Love Lost,” by Paul Sjolund. We’ll give you a little hint here: Dorothy Parker wrote the words to one of the three pieces in “Love Lost.”

If you go:

• What: The Chamber Singers of Iowa City will present “Vignettes.”

• When: 3 p.m. Feb. 15.

• Where: First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester Ave. in Iowa City. 

• Information:www.icchambersingers.org

James Petersen sings with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre Chorus.

Vi·gnette /vin-‘yet/: A brief evocative description, account, or episode.

How does one evocatively describe a scene, a moment, even a thought through music? Our second concert explores how composers from different lands and times choose to convey musically such ideas as the seasons, day and night, freedom, love, and faith.  These vignettes bear commonalities within themselves, yet within them each piece is unique—a snapshot of its creator’s time, place, and personality.

Join us !

Sunday, February 15, 3:00 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church

2701 Rochester Avenue, Iowa City

The Chamber Singers of Iowa City will present an outstanding afternoon of choral music with organ and brass on Nov. 16. titled “Polychoral Splendor.” The concert will feature music from multiple choirs from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

Beginning with Gabrielli’s “O magnum mysterium” and concluding with Randall Thompson’s “Ye Shall Have a Song” from his glorious work, “The Peaceable Kingdom,” the Singers and maestro David Puderbaugh, music director, will lead concert-goers on a choral pilgrimage that few choruses would attempt in a single concert.

In recent columns, we’ve written about Giovanni Gabrieli’s “Hodie Christus natus est,” Jacobus Gallus’ “Alleluia” and “Pater noster,” and Mozart’s “Venite populi.” We herewith continue.

Heinrich Schütz’s “Jauchzet dem Herren (SWV 36)” is one of the finest works of the German Baroque period, an era of outstanding music. His fugue work is extraordinary, and this version of Psalm 100 is as joyous and thrilling as that other German fellow’s.

Josef Rheinberger’s business card could have read, “If you need it, I can write it!” His compositions include a cello sonata, a set of Advent motets, 24 fugues, reams of organ concertos and sonatas for seemingly every instrument to that time. The Singers will perform the “Kyrie” and “Agnus dei” movements from his “Mass in E-flat Major, Op. 109, Cantus Missae.”

Benjamin Britten’s “A Hymn to the Virgin” is a standout bijou of a masterpiece among his many choral works. This hymn holds great drama and a deep mysticism despite its short length. Britten achieves this through antiphonal use of chorus and soloists with one group singing in medieval English, the other answering in Latin. Phrases rise and fall like Gregorian chant, resonating triumphantly or falling to near silence, always with surprising intensity. Soloists include Nancy Bell, soprano; Hillary Foster, alto; Brien Hemann, tenor; and Joshua Atcher, baritone.

Felix Mendelssohn’s “Sechs Sprüche, Opus 79″ follows the church year with its eponymous sections beginning with Christmas: Weihnachten, Am Neujahrstage, Am Himmelsfahrtstage, In der Passionzeit, Im Advent, und Am Karfreitag. Soloists include Kristen Eisenhammer, soprano; Mackenzie DeRoo, alto; Richard Hanson, tenor; and Alexander Weaver, baritone.

Word that two works from Randall Thompson’s “The Peaceable Kingdom” would conclude this concert was greeted with great joy by the Singers. To say it is well known and greatly loved is to make one of the greatest understatements in all of choral music. “Have Ye Not known,” and “Ye Shall Have a Song” top nearly anybody’s list of favorites. Suffice it to say here that if you have never heard these two pieces, you will be amazed. If you have heard them, you will be doubly amazed by this performance.

The Chamber Singers of Iowa City will present “Polychoral Splendor” at 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at First United Methodist Church, 214 E. Jefferson St. in Iowa City. Sunday parking will be effect, which includes the non-metered side of Jefferson St. Parking also is available below the University of Iowa Business School just across Clinton Street, but please come early.

James Petersen sings with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City and the Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre.

2014-2015 Season Announcement!

October 10 2014 - In: General

Polychoral Splendor

Sunday, November 16, 3:00 p.m.

First United Methodist Church

214 East Jefferson Street, Iowa City

Our season kicks off with the sumptuousness of polychoral music, with its thrilling musical dialogue between multiple choirs. The church will ring with the chorus, organ and brass music of Giovanni Gabrieli to the present, including “Ye Shall Have a Song,” the radiant double-choir finale to Randall Thompson’s The Peaceable Kingdom.

Vignettes

Sunday, February 15, 3:00 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church

2701 Rochester Avenue, Iowa City

Vi·gnette /vin-‘yet/: A brief evocative description, account, or episode.

How does one evocatively describe a scene, a moment, even a thought through music? Our second concert explores how composers from different lands and times choose to convey musically such ideas as the seasons, day and night, freedom, love, and faith.  These vignettes bear commonalities within themselves, yet within them each piece is unique—a snapshot of its creator’s time, place, and personality.

George Frideric Handel: Judas Maccabaeus

Saturday, April 25, 7:00 p.m.

Iowa City West High School Auditorium

2901 Melrose Avenue, Iowa City

The season ends in rousing fashion with a full performance of Handel’s triumphant oratorio on the story of Judas Maccabee, the Jewish leader who freed his people from foreign domination in the second century BCE.  Chorus, soloists, and orchestra join forces for this monumental work, which includes such favorites as “See! The conqu’ring hero comes,” “Arm, arm, ye brave,” and “Hallelujah! Amen!” This performance, open to the public, is the grand finale of the national conference of the American Handel Society. Don’t miss this unforgettable performance!

Calendar

  • November 16, 2014 – Polychoral Splendor
    3:00 pm, Concert
  • February 15, 2015 – Vignettes
    3:00 pm, Concert
  • April 25, 2015 – George Frideric Handel: Judas Maccabaeus
    7:00 pm, Concert

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