This weekend, two of Colorado's finest chamber groups begin their seasons, with a reflective spirit appropriate for the coming of fall. St. Martin's Chamber Choir celebrates their 20th season with a concert of conductor and Artistic Director Timothy J. Krueger's favorites from seasons past. Meanwhile, the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado recreates the magic of a 1630s "Vespers in Venice," with rarities from the Italian Baroque.
Over the last 20 years, Krueger's ear for a pure, English choir-based sound and insight into a cappella choral music have made SMCC a favorite of local audiences. Krueger explains the appeal of beautiful choral singing, saying, "I think that nothing connects with the human spirit more closely than the human voice." His choir is variably sized and formed of professional singers, who "create a small group of committed vocal specialists, honing their product with the subtlety and skill of the consummate professional, and creating something truly remarkable in the process, capable of great emotive power." For this opening concert, Krueger looked back at hundreds of pieces the group had performed over the years, and created a varied, appealing program of his favorites. Many of the pieces hold special resonance with the choir, such as Hubert Parry's Sweet Day, So Cool, which was the first piece the choir ever sang in public, and Terry Schlenker's Mass for Double Choir, which was composed for the group's 10th anniversary.
Over the years, Colorado's musical scene has evolved, and the sound of the choir has grown from its original intimate, straight tone blend. Choral blend is still of the utmost importance, but having a larger body of singers to work with now gives Krueger options for creating more full-bodied colors and powerful resonance within the group. This opening concert is a unique potpourri of pieces looking back on this evolution, and the remainder of the season features programs of regional favorites from Spain, the British Isles, an audience and singers' favorites program, and a collaboration with the Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado for "A Salzburg Christmas."
The Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado opens its own season this week with "Vespers in Venice," a recreation of a meditative vespers service. The vespers service is used in many church traditions, and occurs near twilight. Here, the BCOC follows the Baroque tradition of using both vocal and instrumental music in the ritualized service order. Many composers throughout the centuries have composed music for use in vespers, and in the early seventeenth century, when many composers were employees of the Roman Catholic Church, this was especially true. On this program, the familiar voice in the crowd will be Claudio Monteverdi, and his music is joined by contemporaries Giovanni Rigatti, Giovanni Rovetta, Dario Castello, and Giovanni Battista Fontana. Though not exactly household names (even among fans of the Baroque), Artistic Director Frank Nowell says the music of these vespers was typically "unparalleled in their flamboyant displays and exuberance," and that Rovetta in particular is a new favorite of his.
The music takes on fresh interest because the players will be using the antique tuning system called quarter-comma meantone. A variation of the tuning commonly used today (to make pianos easier to tune), this tuning system allows "each key to have its own distinct character, and for modulations within a piece to sound startling and grab the listener’s attention." The world-class players of the BCOC are joined by a small vocal ensemble and guest artist Andrus Madsen, who specializes in Baroque improvisation on keyboards. BCOC continues to share the best of the Baroque with local audiences, and though far from the canals of Venice, this program is sure to transport listeners to another aural world.
St. Martin's Chamber Choir
Conductor's Choice: Echoes from Twenty Years
Friday, September 27, 7:30 pm, Saint John’s Episcopal Cathedral, 1350 Washington Street, Denver, CO 80203
Sunday, September 29, 3:00 pm, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St., Denver, Colorado 80203
303-298-1970 | www.stmartinschamberchoir.org
Baroque Chamber Orchestra of Colorado
Vespers in Venice
Friday, September 27, 7:30 pm, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1600 Grant St., Denver, Colorado 80203
Saturday, September 28, 7:30 pm, Montview Presbyterian Church, 1980 Dahlia St., Denver, Colorado 80220
303-889-1012 | www.bcocolorado.org