… don’t miss Bay Choral Guild’s presentation of Mendelssohn’s Elijah on March 6, 7, and 8. Mendelssohn’s masterpiece was composed on the cusp of the transition from the Baroque to the Romantic periods. The choruses are modeled on Handel’s works and include two of the, if not the two, most gorgeous choral works ever written—“Lift Thine Eyes” and “He, Watching Over Israel”. The arias are in a somewhat different style, displaying Mendelssohn’s genius as an early Romantic composer. Our performance strives to recreate the premiere Elijah performance at England’s Birmingham Festival in 1846, hence it will be sung in English and accompanied by 27 members of the Jubilate Orchestra, playing period instruments tuned to A430—neither the Baroque tuning of 415 nor the 440 of modern instruments.
... at least not yet!
Bay Choral Guild’s Discovery and Rediscovery concerts are this coming weekend in Campbell, San Francisco, and Palo Alto. We will be performing a wonderful program of works by 18 women composers from the 12th to the 21st century, including 14 living composers—six from around the world and eight Americans. We’re used to performing pieces in multiple languages, but have really challenged ourselves—the texts are in Latin, German, Italian, Icelandic, and Latvian as well as in English. Don’t worry, we’re providing translations!
Our 40th Season will conclude with our gift to you of A Ruby Necklace, stringing together jewels from our past concerts—chief among them J. S. Bach’s motet BWV 227 Jesu, meine Freude, Brahms’ motet Schaffe in mir, Gott, and the Bogoroditse Devo from Rachmaninoff’s All Night Vigil—and looking to the future with new gems we’re adding to our repertoire. We chose rubies as the inspiration for this concert because they are the traditional gift stone for a 40th anniversary, and also are thought to possess an eternal inner flame, a symbol that the passion of making beautiful music together is still very much alive and strong after our first 40 years!
March 8, 9 and 10 are important dates for your calendar! The second of our 40th Anniversary season concerts, The Divine Liturgy, presents Schnittke’s Concerto for Choir and selections from Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. BCG performed the Liturgy a decade ago and Rachmaninoff’s other major sacred choral work, the All-night Vespers, three times before that.
It’s hard to believe we are in the last phase of preparing the two major works for our upcoming Händel and Haydn Festival. Performing works from the Baroque Period is part of the DNA of the Bay Choral Guild—a core part of our repertoire since our founding 40 years ago as the Baroque Choral Guild. As we near concert week, our excitement is mounting. We’re still polishing, but we hear each piece developing and rehearsals become even more enjoyable. As for numerous concerts in the past, we will be joined by players from the Jubilate Baroque Orchestra.
What Makes a Baroque Violinist? – by David Wilson
Any Navy SEAL will tell you that having the right gear and the right training are essential, but that another crucial part of the package can be described as “attitude,” a willingness to venture outside of one’s comfort zone and discover a new way of operating. As far as I know, no one has yet begun their violinistic career as a baroque violinist—we are trained as modern violinists, and at some point along the way we discover this other path and begin to pursue it. (I sometimes call this “going over to the Dark Side.”) Doing so requires an open-mindedness, a willingness to try new things and possibly to discard a great deal of habit. Making the switch involves a great deal of time, effort, and even expense on the part of a player.
We have a wonderful set of soloists for our Mozart Requiem Concert, March 11,12 and 13.They are all highly respected West Coast performing artists, all of whom perform extensively in the Bay Area and beyond. Nikolas Nackley was the baritone soloist for our November Carmina Burana concert.
We have a wonderful group of Bay Area soloists and instrumentalists joining us for this concert: Nikolas Nackley, baritone, the Ragazzi Boys Chorus, pianists Tim Getz and Duane Soubirous, and percussionists Kent Reed, Henry Reed, Connor Carroll, and Patrick McCaffrey. In addition, this concert will feature several BCG members who also regularly solo, both with us and other groups: Vai Rangarajan (soprano) and Steve Kispersky (tenor) will perform in Carmina while Amy Worden (soprano) and Allie Leeper (contralto) will do the honors in Peter Hallock’s Gloria. Photos and bios follow . . . .
Regulars in our BCG audience have heard the chorus perform works written by local composers, including Sanford Dole, our Artistic Director, as well as pieces written by members of the BCG chorus. In our Music for Holy Week concert, we are very pleased to be singing The Sun Rose, composed by Caroline Hinshaw, one of our sopranos. This relatively short, highly dramatic piece captures the essence of the experience and emotion of the period between the Last Supper and Easter. Caroline wrote the following description of the inspiration and development of the work:
The program Sanford Dole has developed for our March concert includes a variety of works. As you might expect, the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Sanford, in addition to being BCG’s artistic director, has been Music Director at St. Gregory of Nyssa Church in San Francisco for over 20 years. For this concert, he has chosen anthems, highlights, that the St. Gregory’s choir has sung at various Holy Week services over the years of his tenure. To quote Sanford: