One of the many pleasures of singing with Chamber Singers of Iowa City is the broad range of music one learns and then shares with the audience. The upcoming concert “Vignettes” is a fine example. David Puderbaugh, music director, has chosen five themes for these musical moments in time: “Music,” “Night,” “Troubled Thoughts,” “Faith” and “Love.”
In the vignette “Music,” we’ll hear Lloyd Pfautsch’s “Consecrate the Place and Day,” a stirring piece that sounds at once like trumpets at a coronation, and again like a bit of rollicking fun. John Rutter’s “What Sweeter Music” is a lovely hymn, that works very well here as a study in musical contrasts. William Billings was America’s first choral composer (writing in the 18th century). His “Modern Music” explains everything one needs to know about listening to fine music — including when the audience should applaud.
“Night” brings us music from Estonian composer Pärt Uusberg and his luscious “Õhtul“ (In the Evening), a charming reverie combining a flowing melody with unexpected chords and meters, deeply romantic.
A more familiar piece, Samuel Barber’s “Sure, on This Shining Night,” is a mystical song that speaks of love and wandering, and even “shadows on the stars.” Mendelssohn’s “There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob” begins as a triumphant prophecy then takes a darker, even chilling, turn, then returns to the original theme and ends with a transcendent blessing. Randall Thompson’s “Choose Something Like a Star” finishes the “Night” vignette with music set to Robert Frost’s poem, part of the “Frostiana“ collection.
“Troubled Thoughts” is Brahms’ all-too-real description of a sleepless night with its fears, worries and downright terrors. With a fevered run of notes in the piano accompaniment and a driving five-four meter, we are pulled along on a nightmarish ride, ending only at dawn, with the insomniac forced to face another day.
It is an honor to write that all six of the soloists for this concert come from within Chamber Singers: Alison Burchett, soprano; Kristen Eisenhammer, soprano; Hillary Foster, alto; Lisa White, alto; Richard Hanson, tenor; Patrick Gilpin, bass.
Ms. Foster’s and Ms. White’s duet of Schumann’s “Erste Begegnung“ (First Encounter) is a delight about roses and new beginnings to warm us on a cold winter’s afternoon.
The final vignettes, “Faith” and “Love” include works by Haydn, Palestrina, Martini, Schumann, Dello Joio, and a jaundiced look at love entitled “Lost Love.”
Guest pianist Nathanael Filippelli, a doctoral student at the University of Iowa will perform Franz Liszt’s “Nuages gris,’ a short piano solo and an excellent example of tone painting. With its gentle, brooding quality, the careful listener might imagine the gray clouds of the title. Filippelli will also play Johannes Brahms: Intermezzo, Op. 116, No. 5, a piece with a honeyed, ambling, quality, and a loud-soft, soft-loud dynamic that is very, very Brahms.
James Petersen sings with the Chamber Singers of Iowa City.
If you go
•What: The Chamber Singers of Iowa City present “Vignettes.”
•When: 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 15.
•Where: First Presbyterian Church, 2701 Rochester, Iowa City