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Vocal Art Ensemble performs music inspired by nature

The Davis-based Vocal Art Ensemble will perform its “Cloudburst” program Friday, May 13, in Dixon; Saturday, May 14, in Sacramento; and Sunday, May 15, in Davis. Courtesy photo

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May 3, 2011 | Leave Comment

The Vocal Art Ensemble — a Davis-based choral group that just marked its third anniversary — will present an hourlong spring program titled “Cloudburst — Sounds of Nature” in Dixon, Sacramento and Davis on May 13, 14 and 15, respectively.

Included will be contemporary American composer Eric Whitacre’s “Cloudburst,” an eight-minute piece that portrays the sounds of a thunderstorm with voices, finger-snaps and hand-claps, and a handbell choir.

“I’ve been wanting to present this work for about a decade now,” said Tracia Barbieri, director of the ensemble. “Until now, I’ve never had a group that could pull off a piece like this. It’s definitely a culmination of a dream.”

Also on the program will be Whitacre’s “A Boy and a Girl” and “Lux Aurumque.” Whitacre’s music is being extensively performed nowadays.

(Local audience members with good memories may recall “A Boy and a Girl” on programs by the Davis High School Madrigals a few years ago; “Lux Aurumque” has been performed at the Mondavi Center by Chanticleer as well as the UC Davis University Chorus.)

Elsewhere on the Vocal Art Ensemble program will be Renaissance-era music by Josquin Des Près, for male quartet, and a setting of a prayer by Jacob Händl.

There also will be music from around the world, including songs in Japanese, Italian, Russian and other languages, a total of 12 languages in all.

And there will several short nature-inspired piano works composed by Jacob Dunaway, a 17-year-old student at Davis High. These will be performed by pianist Molly Petrik, who is new to town.

Gerry Hair will serve as a “guide” through a performance of nature-related poetry and narration.

“We want to paint a musical picture of the natural world,” Barbieri said.

The Vocal Art Ensemble features 21 singers, ranging in age from 25 to 65 “with every decade represented in that range,” Barbieri said. “We have four married couples in the group, also a number of graduate students. We have tremendous ties to UC Davis.”

The ensemble toured Ireland last September. The group also has recorded two albums featuring music from past performances.

The “Cloudburst” program will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 13, at Dixon United Methodist Church, 209 N. Jefferson St. in Dixon.

There also will be a performance at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2620 Capitol Ave. in Sacramento.

The Davis performance will begin at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, May 15, at Davis United Methodist Church, 1620 Anderson Road. Ordinarily, the Vocal Art Ensemble performs at the Unitarian Universalist Church, but that building is in the midst of a construction/renovation project.

A suggested donation of $6 to $20 will be accepted at the door. For more information, visit www.vae.trug.com or call (530) 757-2396.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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