Next month Volti, the chamber music chorus conducted by Robert Geary that has described itself as “singing without a net,” will present the final concert of their 35th season. The title of the program is (Ch)oral Argument, which will reflect the use of texts with legalistic connotations. The program will also showcase the efforts of Volti’s Choral Arts Laboratory (CAL), a program that assists the professional development of young composers through commissions and workshops, both past and present.
The past will be represented by CAL alumnus Ted Hearne, who is about to be taking his professional development to the next level, so to speak. At the beginning of this month, the New World Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, and publisher Boosey & Hawkes announced that Hearne had been selected as the third emerging composer to be jointly supported by their New Voices project. (Ch)oral Argument will begin with the world premiere of “Sound from the Bench,” which Hearne composed under a joint commission from Volti and the Philadelphia chorus The Crossing. It is a cantata on a text created by poet Jena Osman, who drew upon the words of the oral arguments presented when the Supreme Court considered the Citizens United case. This will be a rare departure from Volti’s a cappella repertoire, since Hearne has provided instrumental accompaniment from percussion (Ron Wiltrout) and two electric guitars (Taylor Levine and James Moore).
“Sound from the Bench” will be followed by the world premiere of “The Oath of Allegiance” by current CAL composer Melissa Dunphy. In this case the legalistic tone is set, as the title implies, by the words of the pledge taken by all new citizens of the United States. Dunphy herself was born in Australia to a Greek father and a Chinese mother.
The remaining world premiere is Kirke Mechem’s SATB arrangement of his “We Can Sing That!” Based in San Francisco, Mechem is recognized as the “dean of American choral composers,” making him an authority on what choral groups can and cannot do. This piece is a lighthearted reflection of his acquired wisdom. Volti will also give a “revival” performance of his “Winging Wildly,” composed on a commission when the ensemble was called The San Francisco Chamber Singers.
Volti’s San Francisco performance will begin at 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 17, at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church (1111 O’Farrell Street, just west of the corner of Franklin Street). Tickets may be purchased at the door for $30 with special rates of $25 for seniors and $10 for students. There is a $5 discount for both general admission and seniors if the tickets are purchased in advance through the Brown Paper Tickets event page, accessible through a hyperlink from the Volti Web site.