Petite Messe Solennelle
Sunday, October 12, 2008 – 3:00 p.m. - Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Petite Messe Solennelle by Gioacchino Rossini
In 1855, Rossini retired to a luxurious villa built for him at Passy, on the outskirts of Paris, living as a renowned gourmet and bon vivant, entertaining many visitors with his sparkling wit and excellent food. After writing thirty-nine operas in nineteen years, he composed very little in the last forty years of his life. Petite Messe Solennelle , written in 1863, was his last work of consequence, which he referred to as “the last of my pêchés de vieillesse" (sins of old age.) The mass, which is neither little nor solemn, was premiered in front of an audience of nobility and upper-class cognoscenti summoned by invitation only, but information about the performance circulated widely in the Parisian press and soon crossed the Atlantic as well. You can imagine yourself at that first performance as the Bel Canto Chorus and a quartet of fine soloists present this vibrant piece of nineteenth century European sacred music with its original accompaniment of two pianos and harmonium.
Friday, December 12, 2008 – 7:30 p.m. - Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Sunday, December 14, 2008 – 3:00 p.m. - St. Monica
Carol Symphony by James Bassi
Messiah (sing-along) by George Frederick Handel
Experience the joy of the holidays by lending your voice to sing the beloved choruses from Handel’s beloved Messiah, accompanied by Bel Canto’s incomparable Chamber Orchestra, and four outstanding soloists. Paired with the familiar favorite is James Bassi’s Carol Symphony, a work based on three carols: one Ukrainian, one Irish, and one English. Whether you choose to sing along with the chorus or just surround yourself with the exquisite music of the season, you will not want to miss the opportunity to make this musical special occasion a part of your holiday plans.
All Night Vigil
Saturday, March 7, 2009 – 7:30 - Basilica of St. Josaphat
All Night Vigil by Viktor Kalinnikov
The breath-taking beauty of the Basilica of St. Josaphat is the perfect setting in which to experience the lush Russian choral sonorities of Kalinnikov’s All Night Vigil. Viktor Sergeyevich Kalinnikov (1870-1927) was one of the most gifted composers of church music at the Moscow Synodal School, part of a group of young Russian composers who were encouraged by Tchaikovsky to explore ancient Russian chant as source of musical identity. Imbued with characteristics from chant and inspired by the sacred texts, Kalinnikov’s twenty-four unaccompanied choral settings for the Russian Orthodox All Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy foreshadow Rachmaninoff’s monumental All-Night Vigil, composed just a few years later.
Rise Up, My Love
Saturday, May 9, 2009 - 7:30 - Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
Rise Up, My Love by Imant Raminsh Five Hebrew Songs by Eric Whitacre
Requiem da Camera by Gerald Finzi Flos Campi by Ralph Vaughan Williams
Prayers of Kierkegaard by Samuel Barber
Songs of love, whether human or divine, have captured the imagination of composers throughout the centuries. Milwaukee Symphony violist Robert Levine, vocal soloists, and the Bel Canto Chamber Orchestra join the Chorus to perform five passionate expressions of devotion set to music by five twentieth-century masters of composition. The offerings on this concert run from Eric Whitacre’s intimate musical postcards on Hebrew love poems written by his wife, to Samuel Barber’s setting of selected prayers by Danish theologian, Soren Kierkegaard, a work which was described at its premiere as a "serious, moving and convincing piece." Also featured is Flos Campi, in which Vaughan Williams uses solo viola, orchestra, and wordless chorus to express the gamut of emotions found in the love poetry of the Song of Songs.