Cantemus’ “Shining Night” Concerts in December are First with New Music Director
(Nov. 9, 2011) — “Bright snow, star-filled nights, crisp winds…nature reserves some of her most tender and intimate moments for the winter. The season of long nights and blackened skies takes center stage with ‘Shining Night: Songs of a Night Sky,’ a musical musing on a season that shivers with quiet joy.” With these words, Cantemus’ new Music Director, Jane Ring Frank, captured the theme and mood of her inaugural concerts with the 29-year-old chamber chorus, who will be joined for these concerts by a guest soprano soloist and three guest string players on violin and viola.
Frank will conduct her first concerts with Cantemus’ 42-voice group on December 3 in Beverly Farms and December 4 in Newburyport. She joined the group officially on July 1, and began rehearsals in September. “They are a wonderfully expressive and welcoming group, and it is an honor to work with this fine chamber chorus,” she wrote in her program notes for these upcoming concerts. Frank is best known in Boston as the Founder/Artistic Director of Boston Secession, a critically acclaimed, 25-voice professional chorus that broke musical barriers from 1996-2010, when it ended its 13- year run.
The inspiration for Frank’s first program with Cantemus was these lines from a James Agee poem, which provided both the theme and the title for the program: “Sure on this shining night / I weep for wonder / wand’ring far alone / Of shadows on the stars.” The concert begins with Samuel Barber’s haunting setting, written in 1938, of the poem that text appears in, and ends with contemporary composer Morten Lauridsen’s setting of the same Agee text.
At the heart of the concert are two larger choral works: Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s “Messe de Minuit pour Noël” (Midnight Mass for Christmas) and Byron Adams’ “Trois Illuminations” (Three Illuminations).
Charpentier’s output of sacred music was prodigious, Frank explained, with approximately 35 oratorios, 11 settings of the Mass, and over 200 motets. “This piece dates from the early 1690’s and is based on old French carols, or ‘noels,’ most of them dance-like in character. His idea of basing a whole mass on these songs was completely original.”
“Trois Illuminations,” writes its composer Byron Adams, “represents my ongoing fascination with the poetry of Arthur Rimbaud [1854-1891], an intellectually and sexually precocious schoolboy who wrote a dazzling and original body of verse by the age of twenty.” Music Director Frank said that Adams, who lives, teaches and composes in California, “is a marvelous composer, and I have had the great fortune of working with him in the past. In these three verses on our program, he gives us an impressionistic musical landscape, marked by lilting rhythms and lush harmonies.”
Rounding out Cantemus’ “Shining Night” program are stirring selections from Sir Edward Elgar’s “Light of Life,” along with a few surprises from P.D.Q. Bach, Tom Lehrer, and others.
For these concerts, the singers will be joined by Cantemus accompanist Frances Burmeister on piano and organ, and by four guest artists: soprano soloist Adriana Repetto; violinists Marji Gere and Betsy Hinkle; and violist Jason Amos.
Adriana Repetto’s voice has been described by one German music critic as “…radiant tones sung from the heart.” She has performed in Germany and Italy in works by Bach, Mozart, Dvorák, Mendelssohn, Händel and Haydn, among others. Regionally, she has performed with Philovox, King’s Chapel Singers, Longwood Opera, Cappella Clausura, and Boston Secession. A native Bostonian, Repetto is a graduate of both Oberlin College and Conservatory, with a Master of Music in voice from Boston University.
Violinist Betsy Hinkle has been performing and teaching in Boston since graduating from the New England Conservatory in 2001 with a Masters in Violin Performance. She is the founder, in 2007, of the Boston Public Quartet and the non-profit organization musiConnects, groups that are pioneering a new model for combining public music education and performance to build a strong, thriving community. Hinkle performs regularly with the Orchestra of Emmanuel Music, the Boston Ballet Orchestra, and the Back Bay Chorale.
Marjorie Gere, violinist, received a Master’s in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Bachelor’s degrees in Music and English from the University of Iowa, where she studied violin and chamber music. She teaches violin and chamber music to elementary students in Mattapan, and performs as a member of the Boston Public Quartet. She also teaches music, and leads workshops in puppetry, music, and creative writing at the Charlestown Working Theater.
Jason Amos, viola, has performed as the featured young artist of the Detroit Chamber Winds and Strings. He has appeared with the Ann Arbor Symphony, Flint Symphony, and Aspen Sinfonia, among others, and has collaborated with the Providence String Quartet’s chamber music-based youth development programs. He holds a Graduate Diploma from the New England Conservatory of Music. A teacher at Project STEP in Boston, Amos has served as violist and resident musician at musiConnects and Boston Public Quartet since 2010.
Cantemus will perform “Shining Night: Songs of a Night Sky” on Saturday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m., at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 705 Hale Street, Beverly Farms; and on Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 p.m. at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 166 High Street, Newburyport, where they have performed for many years. Regular Cantemus audience members should note that the Saturday concert is in a new venue for the chorus – Beverly Farms. Directions are posted on the Cantemus.org website.
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 Fine Jewelry 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 West Newbury Cultural Council.
Cantemus is a member of the Greater Boston Choral Consortium, a cooperative association of diverse choral groups in Boston and the surrounding areas.
For more information contact:
Susan Nash, Publicity