Chamber Singers of Iowa City

Mozart! Tickets On Sale

April 6 2017 - In: Events

Tickets for our season finale are now on sale. Join us Sunday, May 14th,at 3pm as we fill City High’s Opstad Auditorium with the awe-inspiring sounds of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Vesperae Solennes de Confessore, with orchestra and soloists.

Eternal Gratitude

March 5 2017 - In: General

“Eternal Light” was an absolute delight to perform this afternoon. We were thrilled to have an excellent turnout, and we’re immensely grateful to everyone who joined us. We’re proud of our hard work, and of the sounds we garnered from it. We sincerely hope you enjoyed listening as much as we enjoyed singing.

Next up is “Mozart!,” our season finale on May 14th, which happens to be Mother’s Day! After showering Mom with kisses, hugs, appreciation, and flowers, treat her to an afternoon of choral splendor with Mozart and CSIC! (You always were her favorite.)

ALSO, don’t forget about our Team Trivia Challenge fundraiser tomorrow night, 6-8 pm, at the North Dodge Hy-Vee Market Cafe! You can register in advance here:

(From the Iowa City Press-Citizen.)

Morten Lauridsen says, “For the ‘Lux Aeterna,’ I chose as my point of departure the sacred music of the late Renaissance, especially that of Josquin de Prez, to create a quiet, direct and introspective meditation on light, using primarily the consonant harmonies, intricate counterpoint, formal procedures and chant-like melodic lines of that era.”

In fact, Lauridsen seems to have included most of the musical elements developed or expanded upon during that period. Drawing principally on the familiar texts of the Requiem Mass, Te Deum, O Nata Lux and Veni, Sancte Spiritus, Lauridsen creates what music director David Puderbaugh describes as a “fragile work.” Why?  Every element — notes, chords, phrasing, development of line, breath control and more — must be perfectly in place throughout the five movements. If Lauridsen’s work is new to you, this is the time to hear it performed live in the remarkable space of First United Methodist Church, seemingly designed to allow this unique combination of music and text to soar as it should.

It is tempting to write only about “Lux Aeterna” here, but there are several more pieces on the program, each with its own composer’s perspective on eternal light.

Ēriks Ešenvalds’ “The Heavens’ Flock,” set to a poem by Oregon’s Paulann Petersen, compares stars crossing the heavens on a deep, gorgeous night to a flock of sheep. The poetry and music entwine to convince us of the mysteries and improbabilities that arise when walking alone late on a dark, clear night, where one could imagine stars as sheep and darkness as “black wind.”

“Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis” by English composer Herbert Howells written for King’s College, Cambridge, treat these texts — canticles sung during morning and evening prayer — as the beginning and the end: the first, Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel, which removes her from normal young-girl life to catapult her into the deepest of mysteries; the second, the priest Zachary’s response to seeing the infant Jesus, and having had his life’s wish fulfilled, asks God to let him go in peace. Again, ancient texts set in new ways, bring out elements the listener may have never before heard in them.

Franz Shubert’s “An die Sonne,” an ode to the sun, describes what a mere mortal might never notice was all around him. The delights of nature, a theme in the Romantic period, abound in this piece, with splendid descriptions colorful birds, flowers, plants and trees. And then there is death, which turns all of nature to dust. Fear not! The beauty of this piece is such that no amount of Shubertian angst can deter us. “An die Sonne” will be conducted by Lindsey Bruner Woodcock, the Chamber Singers’ assistant director.

Dr. Lynda Hakken will accompany the Chamber Singers for this concert.

James Petersen sings with Chamber Singers of Iowa City

“Eternal Light” tickets available here.

(From The Iowa City Press-Citizen)

The interplay between light and dark and the intertwining of music and poetry is this season’s theme for the Chamber Singers of Iowa City. The March 5 concert, “Eternal Light,” will center on Morten Lauridsen’s incomparable “Lux Aeterna,” and includes Franz Schubert’s “An die Sonne,” Herbert Howells’ “Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis,” and Ēriks Ešenvalds’ “The Heavens’ Flock.”

Of these, likely the least known are Ešenvalds and his collaborator, Paulann Petersen. Ešenvalds was born in Latvia in 1977. He earned his master’s degree in composition in 2004 from the Latvian Academy of Music. From 2011-13 he was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge. He is a three-time winner of the Latvian Grand Music Award (2005, 2007 and 2015). In 2006, the International Rostrum of Composers awarded him first prize for his work “The Legend of the Walled-in Woman.” He teaches at the Department of Composition of the Latvian Academy of Music.

Paulann Petersen is a native Oregonian. She was a Stegner Fellow in 1986-87 and has won the Carolyn Kizer Poetry Award and the Stewart Holbrook Award, given for contributions to Oregon literature. She has published several full-length collections of poems, “The Wild Awake,” “Blood-Silk,” “A Bride of Narrow Escape” and “Kindle.” Petersen was appointed as Oregon’s poet laureate in 2010 and reappointed in 2012.

Here’s a sample from the opening of “The Heavens’ Flock”:

Ah, Stars, you are the heavens’ flock, tangling your pale wool across the night sky.

Stars, you’re bits of oily fleece catching on barbs of darkness to swirl in black wind.

You appear, disappear by thousands, scattered wide to graze but never straying.

While I, a mere shepherd of these words, am lost.

Ēšenvalds’ work, though spare, is never gaunt. There is a richness to the chord structure and meter. He shifts at will from major to minor — including a few chords you may never have heard before — and spices it with meter changes that make the music soar. His music compels the singers to get “off of the page and into the music” as soon as possible.  Each run-through of the music reveals more beauty, more substance, and creates a desire to go even deeper into the mystery of the work.

Herbert Howells is a familiar name to many concertgoers. His “Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis,” written for the King’s College, Cambridge, interprets two of the prayers sung daily during the Divine Office: the Virgin Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel’s announcement that she might become the Mother of Jesus (“My soul magnifies the Lord”), and the less-known text, the prayer of Zachary (“Lord, now let your servant depart in peace”).

Upcoming columns will delve more deeply into Franz Schubert’s “An die Sonne” and Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna.”

–James Petersen sings with Chamber Singers of Iowa City

“Eternal Light” tickets available here.


  • February 25, 2018 – Handel & Haydn
    3:00 pm, Concert
  • May 20, 2018 – Waiting & Watching
    3:00 pm, Concert
  • May 30, 2018 – Carnegie Hall Trip
    N/A, Concert

Sign up for our mailing list

chamber singers on facebook

chamber singers on twitter

Copyright © 2013 Chamber Singers of Iowa City.

Choir Room