The year-long celebration of the Northwest Choral Society’s (“NWCS”) 50th anniversary will begin with its first concert of the season, entitled “In Ecclesiis: Music for Choir and Brass,” on Saturday, December 5, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. at Faith Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights.
The concert will feature Giovanni Gabrieli’s In Ecclesiis, along with Z. Randall Stroope’s Hodie! (This Day) and Conrad Susa’s A Christmas Garland. The chorus also will welcome in the holiday season with a number of traditional Christmas carols.
NWCS is under the direction of artistic director Alan Wellman. Five members from the Chicago Gargoyle Brass Ensemble will accompany the chorus. The chamber group, comprised of faculty and former students at the University of Chicago, has performed recitals, major liturgical works and organ and brass concerts in major churches in the Chicago area.
In Ecclesiis is Giovanni Gabrieli's most famous single work and a masterpiece of polychoral techniques. Written while Gabrieli was the organist at St Mark's Basilica in Venice, the music was designed to be performed in this unique building, with its dual choir lofts facing each other. The individual groups of musicians and singers would have been spatially separated around the grand architecture, creating a polychoral texture.
The text of this motet,a pre-eminent polyphonic form of Renaissance music, emphasizes redemption and healing through penance, and probably was first performed at a Mass of thanksgiving for the passing of the plague of 1575-77. It calls for four distinct choirs. Choir I is comprised of four soloists, Choir II is the full choir, Choir III is a brass choir and Choir IV is an organ, which plays throughout the piece. The result is a dazzling and expressive display of rich harmonic modulations of singing and playing.
Z. Randall Stroope is an American composer, conductor, and lecturer. He has published more than 140 works, including his most famous compositions Hodie! (This Day), Lamentaciones de Jeremias, and Amor de mi alma. Hodie! was composed in 1991 in recognition of several individuals and a choral society in Lincoln, Nebraska, and was premiered at the Omaha Festival of Christmas Brass that same year.
Dr. Stroope serves as the Director of Choral and Vocal Studies at Oklahoma State University. He also heads the Oklahoma State University Concert Chorale, Chamber Choir, and Women's Choir. Before his appointment to OSU, Stroope held similar positions at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ and at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He recently conducted in Rome, Singapore, England, Germany, Austria, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and National Presbyterian Cathedral, Carnegie Hall and five performances at the Vatican. He is also the Artistic Director for two summer music festivals in Europe.
In A Christmas Garland, composer Conrad Susa weaves a number of traditional Christmas carols into a piece dedicated to the Catari Singers of Columbus, Ohio. Mr. Susa studied composition at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and the Juilliard School of Music in New York and was a musical director on Broadway in the 1960's. From 1959 to 1994, he was the composer in residence at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, where he wrote music for over 200 productions. He subsequently was a professor of composition at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music until his death.
A complimentary preconcert lecture and discussion of the concert music will be hosted by NWCS member Kelsey Green 45 minutes prior to the concert.
Tickets for the “In Ecclesiis: Music for Choir and Brass” concert are $25 for adults and $20 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at www.nwchoralsociety.org, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or an hour prior to the concert at the Faith Lutheran Church, 431 South Arlington Heights Road, Arlington Heights, IL.
Other activities planned for the NWCS’s golden anniversary celebration are the recording of the chorus’ first commercial CD and a Golden Jubilee Dinner on April 29, 2016. The CD includes several of the choral pieces to be performed at the December 5 concert with the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and will be for sale at that event.
Lipke-Kentex-Hesse / Dionne Supply of Chicago is providing much appreciated sponsorship financial support for the Northwest Choral Society’s 2015-16 golden anniversary concert season.
Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature. Its adult membership resides in the greater Chicago area.
The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization. Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.
The Northwest Choral Society performs its 2014 Christmas concert at St. Raymonds church in Mt. Prospect, accompanied, in part, by the Chicago Gargoyle Brass Ensemble (on left side of orchestra).