All Nature Sings – The Marble Choir at Merkin Concert Hall
8pm, Thursday, April 30, 2015
In our continuing effort to bring Marble’s music ministry to the city beyond our sanctuary walls, The Marble Choir will present a concert at the beautiful Merkin Concert Hall at 129 West 67th Street near Lincoln Center! [Click here for ticket information] Many New Yorkers are hesitant to attend a “church concert” at Marble regardless of the quality of the music or beauty of our sanctuary. However, they are much more likely to venture to one of the city’s esteemed concert venues, be transported by our music, and then hopefully be drawn to the Marble community in the future as a result. I therefore urge you to come show your support for our choir and for Marble’s music ministry by inviting a friend, neighbor and co-worker to attend All Nature Sings with you next Thursday evening. You’ll be giving them a sacred gift, I believe they’ll be inspired by the beauty of what they hear, and your presence will mean a great deal both to me and to the wonderfully dedicated singers in YOUR Marble Choir!
The centerpiece of the program is a miniature oratorio for mezzo-soprano and chorus by Aaron Copland (1900-1990) entitled In the Beginning. It highlights the theme of the evening – celebrating all the work of the Creator in the beauty of nature. In the Beginning is a day-by-day dramatic retelling of the Genesis account of creation. Each day is portrayed with music appropriate to that which God created – light, heavens, earth, stars, waters, living creatures, and ultimately humankind. Copland’s beloved harmonic palate permeates the work, along with some surprising harmonic juxtapositions bordering on polytonality. Our magnificent guest soloist will be Helen Karloski, whom congregants have been blessed to hear in worship. You can learn more about this amazingly talented artist by visiting www.helenkarloski.com. In the Beginning is one of the greatest masterpieces of a cappella choral literature – a real tour de force for the choir!
Other works featured on the concert include two charming Garden Songs (Gartenlieder) by Fanny Hensel (1805-1847), one of the best women composers in history whose reputation has been unjustly overshadowed by her brother, Felix Mendelssohn. The choir will also sing a set of four Bird Songs, each quite different from the other – including The Silver Swan by Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), Sweet Suffolk Owl by Thomas Vautor (early 17th century), The Blue Bird by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), and Not One Sparrow Is Forgotten (Shaker Hymn). In Sweet Suffolk Owl the choir is enjoying the opportunity to sing “te whit, te whoo, te whit, te whoo,” something they don’t get to do very often in worship.
A set of songs celebrating Music of the Night includes the mystical Evensong by American composer Stephen Paulus (1949-2014). His music has long been a Marble favorite. Tragically, Paulus died this past fall following complications from a stroke. His passing makes the text of Evensong seem all the more poignant: “Now has the world grown silent, while in the evening’s twilight we find protective peace, as in our quiet chamber after much toil and labor in healing sleep we find release.” Two other songs about Night include a beautiful selection from Benjamin Britten’s (1913-1976) Five Flower Songs: The Evening Primrose. The first half of the concert concludes with one of the most beloved choral works of the 20th century by Eric Whitacre (b. 1970): Water Night. Whitacre’s luminous harmonies shimmer with transcendent, ethereal beauty.
For music on the lighter side, Marble’s own Marie Mascari will raise the roof with He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands; the choir will sing James Erb’s hauntingly beautiful arrangement of the folksong Shenandoah; and no concert celebrating the music of nature would be complete without a lush jazz setting of What a Wonderful World!
I hope to see you there, and if you are able to join us Thursday, April 30 I believe your heart will swell with pride in The Marble Choir, and you will leave feeling truly inspired and richly blessed!