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.