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Davis Chorale to sing of ‘Dreams and Dances’

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The Davis Chorale, under the direction of Alison Skinner, rehearses for its spring concert, "Dreams and Dances," on March 27. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

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From page A9 | April 01, 2014 |

The Davis Chorale, under the direction of Alison Skinner, will present its spring concert, “Dreams and Dances,” 8 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the Brunelle Performance Hall at Davis High, 315 W. 14th St.

The program features an eclectic mix of mostly secular 20th century choral music set to English poetry. Three traditional, but rarely heard works by German composers will balance the selection. The program explores aspects of the human experience from childhood turning into adulthood and death, depicting the dreams, joys and disappointments along the path. The challenging and complex compositions require up to eight-part choirs and two vocal soloists. Instrumental accompaniment will be provided by the chorale’s keyboard accompanist Ellen Schinnerer Deffner, augmented by harp and a string quartet.

The title piece, “Dreams and Dances,” consists of a trilogy of songs by the American composer Gwyneth Walker, set to poems by Lucille Clifton. Walker’s songs shift from lyrical legato passages in “Some Dreams Hang in the Air” and “Let There Be New Flowering” to snappy, jazzy rhythms in “Bones Be Good.”

“Six Choral Dances” from the opera “Gloriana” by British composer Benjamin Britten hark back to rhythms and harmonies of Elizabethan dance tunes while maintaining a contemporary flavor. The opera was written in celebration of the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953, recalling the first Queen Elizabeth (who ruled in Shakespeare’s era). “Gloriana” has been a sobriquet for the Queen Elizabeth I since the 16th century. She is celebrated in these dances by fishermen and country folk, by Time and Concord.

The nostalgic poem about carefree childhood and eventual loss “Fern Hill” by the Welsh poet by Dylan Thomas will be heard in a setting dating from 1960 by the American composer John Corigliano, who creates lyrical, seemingly simple melodies with uncommon dissonant chords.

“Across the Vast Eternal Sky” — with lyrics by Charles Silvestri and music by Norwegian-born Ola Gjeilo — was written in 2013. The soaring melodies evoke spiritual growth and renewal through the image of the phoenix, the beautiful bird of mythology which is reborn from its own ashes like the sun rises each day out of darkness.

The three earlier works comprise “Musikalische Exequien” by Heinrich Schütz, Franz Schubert’s “Der Tanz,” and “Elegischer Gesang” by Beethoven. The choir will sing selected excerpts from the “Musikalische Exequien,” a lengthy work written as a German Requiem in 1639 and performed at the funeral of a Russian prince. The Beethoven is a short elegy, eulogizing the untimely death of the young wife of a friend. It is one of Beethoven’s last compositions. Finally Schubert’s music evokes the dance of life with its changing tides.

The program reflects the choir’s mission to attract audiences with a wide variety of exciting, less often heard choral works.

Tickets are $15 general, $10 for students, $20 for priority and may be purchased in advance at Watermelon Music in downtown Davis or prior to the performance at the door.
For more information,visit davischorale.org.

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