Island Community Chorus heralds spring
Every season the Island Community Chorus offers programs designed to challenge the singers and delight the audiences. This year the Spring Concert is featuring two works new to the chorus: Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana," a rhythmically dramatic piece conveying the joy of spring, and the pleasures and perils of excessive revelry and lust; and Leonard Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms," another contemporary choral work, this one sung in Hebrew. Completing the program will be a reprise from some years back, selections from "The Liebeslieder Waltzes" by Johannes Brahms. Sung in English, they are accompanied by Garrett Brown and his brother Wesley Brown - four hands, one piano.
Director Peter Boak stated, "The 'Carmina' and the 'Chichester Psalms' are probably the most challenging choral works of 20th century composers."
Photo by Ralph Stewart
"Carmina Burana" is a very popular selection for choral groups. Soprano Beth Welch said, of the piece, "This has been a real challenge to learn, with so many words coming so quickly." The subject matters, mostly love and lust, along with other pleasures of the flesh, are couched mostly in Latin, with some parts in old French or old German. The accompaniment, rhythmic and compelling, fills the spaces between selections.
Both the Orff and Bernstein pieces are difficult, particularly in fitting the languages to the notes. Mr. Boak has been working to ensure that the singers have a feel for the music before tackling the languages. This has especially helped with the Hebrew work, as the tempo is often just as challenging as the words.
"It is really strange to spend so much time, so many weeks, learning a work that, in performance, goes by very quickly," Mr. Boak said during a recent rehearsal.
Accompanist Garrett Brown had a helpful suggestion at that same rehearsal. "You have to hear it over and over again, until it almost becomes internalized," he said, adding, "And when that happens, it finally seems friendly."
As for the singers, the work does pay off eventually. Almost simultaneously after one rehearsal, two members of the chorus, Kris Vrooman and Nancy Blank, said, "I think I will finally like this," in regard to the Psalms.
Also featured on the Bernstein work will be Sandra Bittermann on harp and Brian Weiland on percussion, as well as Hannah Marlin as soloist.