The Davis Chorale will present two concerts in Davis this month, on May 20 and 22. From left are Bryan Plude, Helga Mueller, Rebecca Fong and Ben Cooper, under the direction of Alison Skinner. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo


Davis Chorale to sing Bach, Mozart and American works in two local concerts

By May 10, 2011

The Davis Chorale will present traditional classics by J.S. Bach and W.A. Mozart, as well as more modern pieces by American composers Eric Whitacre and Randall Thomson on Friday, May 20, at 8 p.m. at St. James Church, 1275 B St. in Davis, and again on Sunday, May 22, at 4 p.m. at Davis Community Church, 412 C St.

According to director Alison Skinner, the program will begin with Bach’s Cantata No. 150 “Nach dir, Herr, verlangt mich.” The 15-minute piece is in seven short sections.

“It’s not a cantata for a specific time of year,” Skinner said. “It sounds, perhaps, like a repentance cantata, but it’s not specifically for Lent. It’s about wanting to be with God, and having this world keep you away from that. And it’s a wonderful choral cantata, with five choruses, which is unusual. So there’s a lot of meat for the choir to dig into, which is what I was looking for when I picked this piece.

“There’s also a lovely soprano aria, which will be sung but Sharon Burow, a longtime member of the choir who comes from Sacramento. She and her husband have sung with the choir for a long time.”

Mozart’s “Vesperae solennes de confessore” comes next. This 28-minute sacred piece includes five settings of Psalms that traditionally were sung at vespers, and a Magnificat.

“Each section of the piece has its own emotion, some are really about God’s power, so there’s powerful music for the choir to sing,” Skinner said. “Other parts are all about the good deeds that God has done, and there’s a lot in those sections for the choir to enjoy singing.”

The performance will feature soprano soloist Arielle Deem, who was a member of the Davis High School Madrigals a few years ago, and went on to study at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.

The concert’s second half will feature “Five Hebrew Love Songs” by American composer Eric Whitacre, whose music is close to ubiquitous in choral programs these days.

“He’s a rock star in the choral music world right now,” Skinner agreed. “These five songs are really different than material of his I’ve done with other groups. The Hebrew texts inspired him to become much more lyrical; he has these beautiful melodic lines you don’t find as much in his other pieces.

“The Hebrew text was written by his then-girlfriend, who is now his wife. They are beautiful little pictures of love, set with violin and piano. They’re wonderful pieces, easy to listen to and enjoy.”

Closing the program will be Randall Thomson’s “Frostiana,” a nearly 30-minute-long piece containing settings of seven short poems by Robert Frost. Three are set for the full choir; two are set for soprano and alto voices, two others for tenor and bass voices.

“The one that’s most well-known is ‘Choose Something Like a Star,’ which is a wonderful poem about a star teaching us how to stay calm and not get stuck in the ebb and flow of life,” Skinner said.

Voluntary donations will be accepted with gratitude at the door for both performances.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at [email protected] or (530) 747-8055.

Jeff Hudson

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