Somewhere I Have Never Traveled
New Directions in American Choral Music
For its 2015-2016 season, the Washington Master Chorale will celebrate its commitment to new music with a year of commissions, presenting a newly commissioned American choral work on each of its three concert programs.
On Sunday, October 18 at The National Presbyterian Church, the Washington Master Chorale will perform “Modern Romantics,” pairing Morten Lauridsen’s choral cycle Les Chansons Des Roses based on texts of Rainer Maria Rilke with the world premiere of a new work by composer and conductor Julian Wachner. Song selections will examine the shift from Romanticism to Modernism through musical settings of Rilke, Christina Rossetti and others, and reveal the connections among poetry, fine art and music.
The program will open with settings of ancient love songs “Song of Solomon” or “Song of Songs” from the Hebrew scriptures and Wachner’s “Arise My Love” for organ and chorus. Excerpts from his Rilke Songs and Jennifer Higdon’s stunning setting of e.e. cummings’s “somewhere i have never traveled” will follow. The chorus will close the first half with Morten Lauridsen’s choral cycle “Les Chansons des Roses.” The second half will feature settings of love poetry by Samuel Barber and Norman Dello Joio, and will conclude with the premiere of the new work by Julian Wachner, a 10-15 minute multi movement choral work drawn from the secular texts of Christina Rossetti and modeled on Francis Poulenc’s chamber instrumental works.
The work of the celebrated sculptor Auguste Rodin and the profound affect he had on Rilke, and Rilke’s connection to Christina and Dante Rossetti will be discussed during a preconcert panel conversation. The panel will be moderated by Artistic Director Thomas Colohan and feature composer Julian Wachner and experts from the National Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress.
On Sunday, December 20 at The Church of the Epiphany, we will usher in the holiday season with “Noel! Noel!” — a delightful program of seasonal classics, both old and new. Highlights include Heitzeg, Willan, Mathias, Rheinberger, Vaughan Williams, Howells, Lauridsen, Mechem, Paulus, Poulenc, etc. A highlight of the program will be the world premiere of a new choral work by Russell Nadel on text of Sara Teasdale. Nadel’s compositions have been premiered by a number of notable groups, including the distinguished Vancouver Chamber Choir. A spirited audience sing along with Maestro Colohan and the Chorale will round out the festive afternoon.
On Sunday, March 6 at The National Presbyterian Church, the Chorale will present tFor their final concert, the Chorale will present “Song of the Beloved,” featuring Gabriel Fauré’s moving Requiem, Op. 48 in its elegant original chamber orchestra instrumentation, along with the world premiere of Song of the Beloved, a choral cantata for soprano and tenor soloists, chorus, and strings by renowned composer Robert Kyr.
Kyr’s commission is made possible by a generous gift from the Fetzer Institute whose work reflects a belief in the transformative power of love and forgiveness. Texts have been drawn from such disparate sources as Sappho, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, Sir Philip Sidney, Vietnamese poet Thich Nhat Hanh, East Indian Rabindranath Tagore, a Native American’s Medicine man and others.
Robert Kyr’s music has been performed widely around the world and he has been commissioned by numerous ensembles, including Chanticleer, Cantus (Minneapolis), San Francisco Symphony Chorus, New England Philharmonic, Conspirare, Oregon Symphony, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Chamber Symphony), and the Moscow State Chamber Choir (Russia) among others.