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BSO joins with Bainbridge Chorale for collaborative concert in April | GUEST COLUMN

BSO Music Director and Conductor Wesley Schulz.  - Ben Aqua photo
BSO Music Director and Conductor Wesley Schulz.
— image credit: Ben Aqua photo

As a musician, one aspect of the arts that excites me the most is collaboration. Joining forces with other artists or organizations opens up opportunity and allows one to live in the realm of dreams and what is possible.

So I’m very pleased that Bainbridge Chorale and the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra are uniting on April 12-13 for collaborative performances of Ralph Vaughan William’s "Serenade to Music" and Giuseppe Verdi’s "Requiem." This is the first time in many, many years for these two incredible organizations to unite forces to perform two choral masterworks.

Vaughan Williams wrote his "Serenade to Music" in 1938 in honor of Sir Henry Wood and his 50th anniversary of conducting. Wood was knighted in 1911 and was the founder of the still running Promenade (Proms) Concerts.

In this work Vaughan Williams chose 16 singers who Wood had worked with throughout his career and wrote music specifically for each of them. In the score Vaughan Williams wrote the initials of each person next to their solo line. Our performance, like many modern performances, uses a full chorus in place of the original soloists.

The text comes from Shakespeare in Act V, Scene 1 of "The Merchant of Venice." Here, Shakespeare writes one of his most poignant tributes to art and music. The beauty of Vaughan Williams' musical setting is intoxicating and blissful. Few settings of the words of Shakespeare have been given such perfect melodies as Vaughan Williams.

Verdi’s "Requiem" has a unique origin in that he was first moved to compose such a work upon the death of Rossini in 1868. The project was to involve a consortium of composers who would each compose a portion of the mass. Unfortunately, disagreements about the project canceled events and it was not performed. Then, in 1873, Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian hero, died and Verdi once again took up the idea of a "Requiem" in order to honor Manzoni, this time composing the entire mass himself. A consummate opera composer, this is one of a handful of works outside the opera house. Despite having the vestures of a mass, Verdi never intended the work for liturgical use. The first performance was held at San Marco but then moved across the street to La Scala for future performances.

The music of the "Requiem" is as finely crafted and beautifully spun as any other vocal work of Verdi. The terror that he elicits in the Dies irae through the combined forces of full orchestra and chorus is one of the most memorable moments of the entire work. When the brass enter in full force in the tuba mirum one can feel the power of emotion behind every note prickling the hairs on one’s nape as they reach a climactic crescendo. We are fortunate to have a cadre of talented vocalists in the voices of Janeanne Houston, soprano, Sarah Mattox, mezzo-soprano, Ross Hauck, tenor and Charles Robert Stephens, bass.

Please join us in the Bainbridge High School Commons for what is sure to be a memorable performance. Collaborations such as these are a rare treat on Bainbridge Island and this is an event not to be missed. Harmonious music awaits you.

April 12-13

Bainbridge Chorale & Symphony Orchestra present Verdi’s "Requiem" at the Bainbridge High School Commons

The BSO and the Bainbridge Chorale team up in an historic collaboration to present Ralph Vaughan Williams "Serenade to Music" and Verdi’s monumental "Requiem."

Performances: Saturday @ 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12 and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 13 (a pre-concert chat is 3 p.m. Sunday).

Tickets: Advance purchase online at www.bainbridgechorale.org. Admission is $22 adults; $18 seniors (62 and older); $15 students/military/teachers; $5 children (under 13). Tickets at the door are $25 adults; $21 seniors (62 and older); $18 students/military/teachers; $5 children (under 13).

Sponsors: Bainbridge Community Foundation, Columbia Bank, Fletcher Bay Foundation, Kitsap Community Foundation, Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island, Sohn Real Estate Group, and Sound Family Health.

Wesley Schulz is music director and conductor for the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra.

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