Cantemus Promises to “Sing Merrily”
(April 7, 2014) —The last weekend of April, the 44 members of the Cantemus Chamber Chorus will present a sometimes joyful, soulful, humorous and always melodious program called “Sing We Merrily: Part Songs, Catches and Glees.”
Music Director Jane Ring Frank described the concert’s theme as “loosely but lovingly inspired by the English tradition of part songs, catches and glees, a centuries- old tradition, long sung and enacted in music halls, concert stages and academic communities.”
The program begins with a haunting contemporary round, “Be Like the Bird,” based on a poem by Victor Hugo, followed by the eponymous “Sing We Merrily” by composer Maurice Greene (c. 1695-1755), which is “rollicking, cheerful and a bit noisy,” Frank said, and “in keeping with the tuneful nature of the whole concert.”
Intended for chorus, rather than solo voices, the part song is essentially a melody harmonized by lower voices, written to a secular text and usually sung unaccompanied. Cantemus will perform “Five Partsongs” by Gustav Holst (1874-1934), some touching and romantic, others convivial and pastoral. Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) collected three choruses from his “Falstaff” opera “Sir John in Love” and presented them as a choral cantata he called “In Windsor Forest.” From that work, Cantemus will perform “Sigh no more, ladies,” for women’s voices, the “Wedding Chorus” and “Whether men do laugh or weep.” All three are lyrical, rhythmic and tuneful. Both Holst and Vaughan Williams were strongly influenced by British folk songs.
Contemporary composer Kenneth Neufeld’s lyrical and gorgeous “The Lamb,” “Little Boy Lost – Little Boy Found” and “The EchoingGreen” are set to texts from William Blake’s “Songs of Innocence and Experience “(1794). The songs convey child-like questioning, melancholy, wit and merriment with harmonic complexity and distinct jazz flavorings.
A group of Cantemus’ women will perform “Once, Twice, Thrice” by Purcell, and the whole group will sing several humorous catches and glees whose lyrics are “admittedly naughty, in keeping with the ‘glee’ tradition,” Frank remarked.
Rounding out the program are part songs of a more contemporary nature: a rhythmically and harmonically complex version of the Beatles’ “Blackbird,” a straightforward part-song style rendering of their “I Will,” and a heartbreaking arrangement of Billy Joel’s honest and poignant “And So It Goes.”
Cantemus will perform “Sing We Merrily” on Saturday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m., at Christ Church of Hamilton-Wenham, 149 Asbury Street, Hamilton; and on Sunday, April 27 at 4:00 p.m. at Central Congregational Church, 14 Titcomb Street, Newburyport. Regular audience members should note that the Sunday venue is different this spring!
Tickets are available online at http://www.mktix.com/ccc, or fans can save $2 on advance tickets purchased at The Book Rack in Newburyport, Nazir’s of Wenham, Norris Gallery / MiXtMedia in Ipswich, The Book Shop of Beverly Farms, Toad Hall in Rockport and Gloucester Music. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors. Admission is free for students 21 and under. For details, visit www.cantemus.org, or phone 1-888-CHORUS 1.
Cantemus gratefully acknowledges funding support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Hamilton-Wenham, Georgetown, Newbury, Newburyport and West Newbury Cultural Councils.
Cantemus is a member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium, a cooperative association of diverse choral groups in Boston and the surrounding areas.
FYI: Cantemus’ 44 members come from 27 communities on the North Shore, Boston, Cambridge and New Hampshire:
Cambridge: Music Director Jane Ring Frank. Amesbury: Ron Pressler. Beverly: Dick Church, Bill Gelwick, Scott Hufford, Paul Kelly, Pamela Morris, Rachel Small. Bradford: Mern Ebinger. Byfield: Doug Guy. Essex: Betsy Vicksell. Danvers: Kelsey Atwater. Georgetown: Patty Clark. Gloucester: Ed Mowrey. Hamilton: Marcy Homer. Haverhill: Bill Holloway. Ipswich: Ali Lipman, Anne Maguire, Nat Pulsifer, Sr. Pat Rolinger, Debby Twining. Lynnfield: Priscilla March, Melanie Richard. Manchester-by-the-Sea: Isabella Bates. Melrose: Accompanist Jeffrey Mead. Newbury: Judy Fayre, Nancy Weinberg. Newburyport: Richard Blumenscheid, Claire Cayot, Gary Lubarsky. Peabody: Marjorie Short. Pride’s Crossing: Stephen D. Pletcher. Rockport: Chris Pope. Roslindale: Deborah Lemont. Salem: Michael Benjamin, Aria Nevin. Shirley: Cheryl Hayden. South Hamilton: Peggy Russell. Wenham: Jamie Cabot, David Geikie, Elizabeth Lebel, Charlie Tyson. West Newbury: Susan Nash. Durham, NH: Sydney van Asselt.
For more information contact:
Susan Nash, Publicity