Rochester, NY — The Eastman Chorale, a select graduate and undergraduate ensemble of 60 voices from the Eastman School of Music conducted by William Weinert, is preparing for a four-concert tour from November 20-24, 2003.
According to Weinert, the programming reflects on tradition and renewal, with works ranging from the Renaissance to traditional spirituals through 21st century repertoire. The concert opens with Palestrina’s 17th century advent antiphon Canite tuba, paraphrasing texts from the books of Lamentations and Isaiah, paired with Sebastien de Vivanco’s motet, Sicut lilium. Steven Stucky’s Whispers (2002) sets Walt Whitman’s Whispers of Heavenly Death, interwoven with passages from William Byrd’s famous Ave verum corpus, sung by a small semi-chorus. An intersection between English music of the 17th century and the work of a living composer is also seen in Sven-David Sandström’s 1986 “completion” of Henry Purcell’s motet Hear My Prayer, O Lord. Prior to intermission will be Bach’s eight-voice Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied, perhaps the most complex, exuberant and rewarding of his motets.
The second half of the concert traverses through Italy, Norway, England, Estonia, and the United States, beginning with Verdi’s 1880 Pater noster. Composed between Aida and Othello, the work is an Italian paraphrasing of the Lord’s Prayer by Antonio de Beccari written in the 1330s. Grieg’s last composition, Four Psalms (1906) transforms old Norwegian hymns into expressive choral settings. Three choral partsongs by Edward Elgar: My Love Dwelt in a Northern Land, Serenade, and O, Wild West Wind, constitute the pinnacle of this genre’s development in England. The most recent work on the program is To His Music by American composer Andrew Rindfleisch, a work that has special meaning for the Oberlin stop on the tour. Completed in the summer of 2003, the piece was written as a tribute to the late Robert Fountain (1918-1996), one of this country’s most prominent choral musicians and a 1942 Eastman graduate. Fountain conducted the Oberlin College Choir from 1948 to 1971. Rindfleisch combines texts from Shakespeare’s Henry VIII and Psalm 90 in this hypnotic work. Popular Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s …which was the son of… (2000) is a dynamic setting of the genealogy of Jesus from the third chapter of Luke. The Eastman Chorale concert closes with two traditional spirituals, Deep River and Ride On, King Jesus.
All concerts are free and open to the public. The tour schedule is as follows:
- Thursday, November 20 at 8 p.m., Finney Chapel on the campus of the Oberlin College Conservatory; Oberlin, Ohio. The College Choir will join the Chorale for a few works.
- Friday, November 21 at 7:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church (1669 West Maple Road; Birmingham, Michigan). A freewill offering will be collected to benefit the Birmingham-First Concert Series. Immediately following the concert will be a Meet-the-Artists reception.
- Saturday, November 22 at 8 p.m., Trinity Episcopal Church (371 Delaware Avenue; Buffalo, New York). The Hamburg High School Concert Chorale will sing a few short works on its own and joins the Eastman Chorale for the spirituals.
- Sunday, November 23 at 8 p.m., the Chorale returns to Rochester to perform at Eastman’s Kilbourn Hall (26 Gibbs Street).
Since 1994, William Weinert has served as director of choral activities at the Eastman School of Music, where he conducts the Eastman Chorale and the Eastman-Rochester Chorus, as well as supervises students in the master’s and doctoral programs in choral conducting. Co-chair of Eastman’s conducting and ensembles department, Weinert has conducted throughout the country and in France, Germany, and Hong Kong. Since 1998, he has been editor of the American Choral Review.