Michael Vitalino

Michael Vitalino

The UCSB Chamber Choir, led by founder Michel Marc Gervais, and the UCSB Women’s Chorus, conducted by Michael Vitalino, will present a concert of romantic music they call “Liebe Und Leben /Of Love and Life” at 8 p.m. Friday in the timeless confines of St. Anthony’s Chapel, 2300 Garden St. in Santa Barbara.

Each of the two ensembles will take half the concert (perhaps sharing the soloist, tenor Benjamin Brecher, between them).

The Women’s Chorus will sing love songs by Felix Mendelssohn, Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The Chamber Choir will perform a program of British folk songs transcribed and arranged by Ralph Vaughan Williams.

It is likely to startle no one that Mendelssohn and Schumann wrote many charming and memorable songs. Good songs always sell, and composers have to make a living — especially composers who don’t have a knack for writing operas. The catalogue of Mendelssohn’s works includes 116 songs; the catalogue of Schumann’s contains even more. (Of course, they don’t come close to Schubert’s more than 600, but they are still noteworthy for their quality and beauty.)

What is surprising is that we don’t often think of Brahms as a songwriter — certainly not to the extent that we think of him as a composer of symphonies, concertos and chamber music. Yet each of his hundreds of beautiful melodies is a vocal melody, even if there are no words. And he, too, wrote more than a hundred songs, way more.

With his folk-song arrangements, Vaughan Williams blurs the line between the art song and the folk tune. His arrangements partake of both his scrupulous research into folk music, and his passionate study of 16th-century polyphony. The result is both breathtaking and beguiling.

Tickets to this choral concert are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and can be purchased at the door or in advance by clicking here.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at gerald.carpenter@gmail.com. The opinions expressed are his own.