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UCSB Winds, Chamber Choir Shed Both Heat, Light

Two university music groups offer performances this week and weekend.

The UCSB Wind Ensemble and the UCSB Chamber Choir both present their winter quarter concerts later this week. The Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Paul Bambach and his graduate assistant Beverly Brossmann, will be in Lotte Lehmann Concert Hall at 8 p.m. Thursday, while the Chamber Choir will present its program twice — at 8 p.m. Friday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St., and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Mission Santa Inés, 1760 Mission Drive, Solvang. Admission to the concerts in Lehmann Hall and Trinity Episcopal is $15 for the general public and $7 for students, with tickets sold at the door. If you can make it up to Solvang on Sunday evening, that performance of the Chamber Choir will be offered free.

The music of Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) is a lot more fun than you’d think, looking at him.
The music of Darius Milhaud (1892-1974) is a lot more fun than you’d think, looking at him.
With his usual ingenious and tasteful eclecticism, Bambach has fashioned a program for his Wind Ensemble that includes Aaron Copland’s Variations on a Shaker Melody, Darius Milhaud’s Suite Française, Bela Bartok’s Romanian Dances, and Johann Sebastian Bach’s Grand Fantasia in G Major, as well as the more strictly “band” pieces, the “Chester” Overture by William Schuman, “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen and “Fanfare for a New Era” by Jack Stamp.

The “Shaker Melody” of Copland’s piece is called “Simple Gifts,” and the first stanza goes: ”’Tis a gift to be simple, ‘Tis a gift to be free/ ‘Tis a gift to come down where we want to be/ And when we find ourselves in the place just right/ It will be in the Valley of Love and Delight.”

About his “Suite Française,” Milhaud wrote: “For a long time I have had the idea of writing a composition fit for high school purposes and this was the result. In the bands, orchestras and choirs of American high schools, colleges and universities where the youth of the nation be found, it is obvious that they need music of their time, not too difficult to perform, but, nevertheless keeping the characteristic idiom of the composer.”

The musicologist Nick Strimple says that Lauridsen is “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic, (whose) probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered.”

The Chamber Choir’s program bears the motto “Eonia (Eternal Light)”, and it has been put together by the Choir’s breathtakingly accomplished director, Michel Marc Gervais, to showcase rarely heard sacred choral works of the 20th century, including John Tavener’s Aiwvia / Eonia, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ hauntingly beautiful Mass in g minor for double chorus, and Thomas Jennefelt’s O Domine for solo mezzo-soprano and mixed chorus.

Tavener — since 2000, Sir John Tavener –– was born in England in 1944, a direct descendant of the 16th century composer John Taverner. He attended Highgate School, was a classmate of John Rutter, and the Royal Academy of Music, as a pupil of Sir Lennox Berkeley. He is a religious searcher. Joining the Eastern Orthodox Church in 1977, he has since incorporated many other religious traditions, East and West, in his music.

Jennefelt is a Swedish composer, born in 1954, whose music is known for its rhythmic and melodic complexity.

Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor.

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