Arts and Entertainment

‘Requiem’ brings Bainbridge choral and symphony together

Wesley Schulz, co-conductor of the upcoming Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra / Bainbridge Chorale joint production of “Verdi’s Requiem” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade To Music,” leads the orchestra and chorus through a recent practice session.  - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Wesley Schulz, co-conductor of the upcoming Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra / Bainbridge Chorale joint production of “Verdi’s Requiem” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade To Music,” leads the orchestra and chorus through a recent practice session.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

Renowned opera composer Giuseppe Verdi meant for his requiem to unite a culture through a collective expression of grief following the death of the famous poet and novelist Alessandro Manzoni.

Now, exactly 140 years after it was first performed, the best known of his later works will likewise unite two musical groups on Bainbridge Island.

The collaborative performance of “Verdi’s Requiem” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade To Music” by Bainbridge Chorale and the Bainbridge Symphony Orchestra this weekend will mark the first such partnership between the two groups in nearly two decades.

“Our two organizations are just very excited to finally be together doing master works,” said co-conductor Wesley Schulz.

“There have been some little collaborations the past few years where maybe [vocalists] get together for a sing along or a few musicians in the orchestra are playing with the chorus in one of their concerts, but it’s been 16 years since we’ve done a master work, tackling one of the really big pieces of music using all of our forces,” he said.

Schulz is leading the production along with fellow co-conductor Michael Austin Miller, and each will lead a separate aspect of the performance.

Though the show will be performed only twice, the preparation required to produce such a massive show entailed much advance work and practice, Schulz said.

He explained that the two groups began practicing separately at first, after the music was officially selected, and then it was the conductors who switched initially to work with both the orchestra and the chorus before eventually getting everyone together.

“This was sort of a really exciting moment for us to come together,” Schulz said. “So to celebrate that partnership we did want a representative from both of our groups conducting on the concert. So we decided to do the ‘Verdi’ as our big piece, that I’m leading, and then Michael is conducting the Vaughan Williams piece.”

“It’s kind of a gradual put-together,” he said.

The requiem was chosen as the primary piece, Schulz said, because it highlights both of the chorus and the orchestra throughout so well.

“Verdi was all opera; he wrote only a handful of small chamber works that were not operatic,” he explained. “So it’s really significant, this piece in his repertoire, because it was very late in his life it was after all of his success. He was thinking about retirement, and then he picked up the idea of doing this requiem. People think, ‘Oh, this is just a concert opera,’ and it’s not. It is truly a requiem in that you hear the master count behind it in his elder years, and his handling of the chorus and how he handled the soloist and interweaves them with the orchestra. I think it’s magnificent.”

Several special guest soloists - including soprano Janeanne Houston (who is one of the Northwest region’s busiest and most versatile performers), mezzo-soprano Sarah Mattox (who has appeared as a soloist four times at Carnegie Hall), tenor Ross Hauck (who has been heard live in broadcast recitals on PBS) and bass Charles Robert Stephens (who has performed leading roles with New York City Opera and with Opera Orchestra of New York in Carnegie Hall) - promise to make the joint performance even more memorable.

Tickets to both performances of the joint production of “Verdi’s Requiem” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade To Music” are now available at www.bainbridgechorale.org.

A Dynamic Duo

What: BSO and Bainbridge Chorale present “Verdi’s Requiem” and Vaughan Williams’ “Serenade To Music.”

When: Two shows only, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 12 and 4 p.m. Sunday, April 13.

Where: Bainbridge High School Commons (9330 NE High School Road).

Admission: Tickets are $22 for adults; $18 for seniors; $15 for students, military and teachers; and $5 for children under 13, at www.bainbridgechorale.org.

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