The Brattleboro Concert Choir, directed by Susan Dedell, will sing this most beloved of pieces on Saturday, June 22, at 8 pm, at Persons Auditorium at Marlboro College. The concert also includes Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine,” “Messe Basse,” and the “Te Deum” of Marc Antoine Charpentier.
The “Te Deum” by French baroque composer Charpentier begins with one of the most well known pieces of orchestral music in the entire repertoire, but it is a safe bet that most people don’t know what it is called and who wrote it. This is easily explained: The lively instrumental opening of the “Te Deum,” which features high-flying baroque trumpets, winds, and strings, was used as the theme music preceding the broadcasts of the European Broadcasting Union for many years, both abroad and in this country. But the music that follows this attention-getting overture is every bit as riveting and enjoyable.
Charpentier (b. 1643), was exceptionally prolific and versatile, producing compositions of the highest quality in several genres. As well as being commissioned to write music for grand church festivals and court events, he was a frequent composer for the popular theater, most notably writing scores for Moliere. His music reflects the elegance of the court of Louix XIV with theatrical clarity and wit. Charpentier typifies that particularly French ability to be at once both intimate and grand, and the “Te Deum” reflects this – alternating full orchestra and chorus with soloists and harpsichord. Indeed, the work is a stunning example of how to illuminate a text and hold the audience in fascination and entertainment the while.
Although far different in external style, “Requiem” is intimate and hugely profound. This piece contains within its rather simple frame both heartrending melodies that bespeak a personal message and ecstatic harmonies that embody the eternal. Fauré himself said of the work, “It has been said that my “Requiem” does not express the fear of death -- that it inclines towards human tenderness overly. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness.”
Soloists for the concert are Junko Watanabe, soprano; Geoffrey Williams, countertenor; Matthew Hensrud, tenor; and David McFerrin, baritone.
Watanabe is a frequent soloist with the Concert Choir, and a favorite of audiences. In demand as a soloist in both opera and oratorio, she has sung with the Boston Lyric Opera, Chorus Pro Music, and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra. She was a participant in the Marlboro Music Festival and is currently on the faculty of Amherst College, the Rivers School Conservatory, and the Brattleboro Music Center. The chorus is joined this year by baritone McFerrin. Praised by The New York Times for his “appealingly textured sound,” McFerrin is achieving critical acclaim in a wide variety of repertoire. This season he is a featured Emerging Artist with Boston Lyric Opera, where he also performs with the Handel and Haydn Society. A past participant of the Caramoor and Ravinia festivals, this year he will be at the Marlboro Music Festival for his second summer.
Also appearing in this concert for his first performance with the Brattleboro Concert Choir is Williams. He is in growing demand as an early music specialist throughout the United States, performing regularly with Vox Vocal Ensemble, Early Music New York, and the Clarion Music Society. He is founding member and artistic director of the acclaimed male classical quartet New York Polyphony, and is on the faculty of the Amherst Early Music Festival. Williams is as comfortable performing the music of Charpentier and Purcell as he is with postmodern repertoire including recent appearances with Grammy-award winning contemporary music ensemble, Eighth Blackbird.
Tenor Hensrud captivated audiences in the premiere of Paul Dedell’s “Divine Chemistry” in 2011. He lives in New York and is a full-time member of the Trinity Choir, and also sings with Early Music New York, the Clarion Music Socity, and the Antioch Ensemble. A wide ranging singer, he has premiered avant garde works by Missy Mazzoli and Nico Muhly, as well as the rock-inspired music of Hank Heijink.
Join the Brattleboro Concert Choir for A Midsummer’s Concert on Saturday, June 22, 8 pm, in Persons Auditorium at Marlboro College.
Admission is $15 general, and $10 students. To purchase tickets call the Brattleboro Music Center at (802) 257-4523 or purchase online at bmcvt.org. To learn more about this program, as well as other programs of the BMC visit bmcvt.org.