All students, staff and faculty are welcome to join the Middlebury College Community Chorus as the choir starts to prepare for its annual fall concert, slated for performance on campus the weekend before Thanksgiving. Regular rehearsals are Tuesday and Sunday evenings from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in Mead Chapel, beginning September 13.
This season’s program includes historical works from the European choral tradition alongside breathtaking contemporary works written during the past decade. The songs feature celebratory psalm texts with a Thanksgiving theme, as well as music with words that reflect the changing seasons and a longing for justice and peace, important to so many people at this time.
The choir will prepare the Chandos Anthem No. 9 by Baroque composer George Frederic Handel. Its four choruses – reminiscent of the spirited music found in his Messiah – contain dramatic shifts in textures and harmonies, scored for string orchestra and oboe. The program also includes Mozart’s expressive Ave verum corpus, a traditional text from the Roman Catholic tradition.
The chorus welcomes the change of seasons with music by Zachary J. Moore, one of a new generation of American choral composers. With beautiful melodies, he vividly paints the poem October Song, written by Wisconsin poet laureate Max Garland. In O Notte (O Night), completed just a few months ago, distinguished conductor-composer Z. Randall Stroope dramatically scores selected phrases of poems by Michelangelo, “O night, in dreams you carry me where I desire,” and Friedrich Rückert, “Du bist die Ruh” (You are rest), for choir, piano, solo violin and cello.
Distinguished arranger, composer and conductor Craig Hella Johnson creates a lyrical musical setting the words of Mattie Stepanek’s Psalm of Life, written just before Thanksgiving 2003. Mattie, a published poet and peace advocate, died a month before his 14th birthday from a rare form of muscular dystrophy. From the Hebrew tradition, contemporary composer Allan Naplan sets the text of Al Shlosha D’varim: truth, justice and peace sustain the world. The inspirational words of Mother Teresa, “If we have not peace, it is because we have forgotten we belong to each other,” provide the foundation for an award-winning 2010 work by Pacific Northwest composer Joan Szymko.
Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that this program will offer singers the opportunity to explore a rich variety of styles of historic and present-day music, with vivid writing for chorus, piano, and chamber music ensemble. Rehbach begins his seventeenth season as director of the College Community Chorus, and Timothy Guiles returns as the choir’s virtuoso accompanist.
The choir welcomes all interested singers to join the ensemble during September. Participants should plan to attend at least one rehearsal each week. Numbering nearly 100 singers, the group is open without audition or mandatory fees to all singers who can follow a musical score. Its members travel from throughout the region to participate in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College.
For up to date information, check on the web at http://go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact director Jeff Rehbach at 989-7355.