By Robert D. Thomas
Pasadena Star-News/San Gabriel Valley Tribune/Whittier Daily News
A shorter version of this article was first published today in the above papers.
Various segments of the classical music world have been unveiling their seasons. This week we focus on choral music.
• Chorale Bel Canto opens its 31st season on Saturday at 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Whittier College’s Memorial Chapel with a program of part songs from three centuries entitled “The Poet’s Voice.” Stephen Gothold will conduct his 80-voice chorale in music by Brahms, Eric Whitacre (Night Music) and Pasadena-based composer James Hopkins (The Rossetti Songs). Information:www.choralebelcanto.org
• The Los Angeles Master Chorale will take advantage of one of the unique aspects of its home, Walt Disney Concert Hall, when it opens its 49th season next Sunday at 7 p.m. with “Organ Extravaganza.”
Music Director Grant Gershon and Assistant Conductor Leslie Leighton will conduct 115 singers of the Master Chorale, and organists Paul Meier and Kimo Smith.
Selections will include West Coast premieres of A Good Understanding by Nico Muhly and Ascending into Heaven by Judith Weir, along with other anthems and works that take advantage of the hall’s 6,125-pipe organ, including C. Hubert H. Parry’s I Was Glad (which was performed at the April wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton) and Gerald Finzi’s God is Gone Up.
Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson will lead her Los Angeles Children’s Chorus as part of the program. The group will join the Master Chorale in the Muhly premiere and on its own will sing David Wilcocks’ Psalm 150. Information: www.lamc.org
• Further south, the Pacific Chorale begins its 45th season on Oct. 28 at 5:30 p.m. at Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa when Artistic Director John Alexander leads his chorale and the Pacific Symphony in a performance of Mendelssohn’s oratorio, Elijah. Acclaimed American bass Eric Owens will sing the title role. Other soloists are Christine Brandes, soprano, I-Chin Feinblatt, mezzo-soprano, and Nicholas Preston, tenor.
Elijah was the first work the Pacific Chorale performed, in its debut concert as the Irvine Community Chorus under founding director Maurice Allard in January of 1969. Alexander, who has led the Chorale since 1972, subsequently conducted Elijah in performances in 1977 and 1992, but the group has not performed the full oratorio since that 1992 presentation, when Metropolitan Opera baritone Sherrill Milnes sang the title role.
(c) Copyright 2012, Robert D. Thomas. All rights reserved. Portions may be quoted with attribution.