Wednesday, August 22 , 2018, 1:21 am | Fair 63º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Women’s Chorus to Paint ‘American Portrait’ with Sound

Thursday's program will feature a plethora of American composers

Composer Iriving Fine, right, chats with his friend Aaron Copland.
Composer Iriving Fine, right, chats with his friend Aaron Copland.

If the vernally themed concert by UCSB’s Ensemble for Contemporary Music anticipated its subject (spring) by a couple of weeks, then that of the UCSB Women’s Chorus — 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10, in Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. in Santa Barbara — is a good four months ahead of the usual occasion (July 4) for painting an “American Portrait” in music.

But no Fourth of July concert ever conceived has boasted such a rich, varied and I would almost say aristocratic selection of American composers.

With soloists from the UCSB Voice Program, the UCSB Women’s Chorus, conducted by the awe-inspiring Helena von Rueden, (with Chris Davis on piano, unless otherwise noted) will perform:

“There Is a Certain Garden” and “In the Mornin’” by Charles Ives (with mezzo-soprano Stephanie Turner and pianist Kacey Link); “Long Time Ago” and “Golden Willow Tree” by Aaron Copland (with baritone Andrew Padgett and Link on piano); “Monica’s Waltz” from The Medium by Gian Carlo Menotti (with soprano Erica Nagashima and pianist Jennifer Radisch); “Song of Black Max (as told by de Kooning Boys)” by William Bolcom (with baritone Mark Covey and Link on piano); selections from The Tender Land by Copland; “Alleluia” by the fine composer who happens to live among us, Emma Lou Diemer; “Innoria” and “Savory, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” arranged by Donald Patriquin; excerpts from Sing a New Song (“Who Has Seen the Wind?” “A Pavanne for the Nursery” and “The House on the Hill”) by Ned Rorem; “Wondrous Love” arranged by Betty Bertaux; “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child” arranged by Nina Gilbert; “Go ‘Way from My Window” by John Jacob Niles, arranged by Hugh Ross (soloist: soprano Erica Nagashima); and Three Choruses from Alice in Wonderland — “The Lobster Quadrille,” “Lullaby of the Duchess” (soloist: Hannah Downie) and “Father William” by Irving Fine.

This strikes me as a pretty remarkable program. I have seldom seen so many great American composers represented in the same concert. The high folk content guarantees unforgettable melodies.

The Diemer piece ably stands for the considerable body of American religious composition. Rorem (born in 1923) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer, famous for his song settings, and a notable diarist.

Fine (1914-62) was, with Arthur Berger, Leonard Bernstein, Copland, Lukas Foss and Harold Shapero, one of a group of Boston composers known as the “Boston Six.” His music partakes of neo-classicism, romanticism and even serialism. Virgil Thomson noted his “unusual melodic grace,” and Copland praised his elegance, style, finish and ... convincing continuity.”

Tickets to “American Portrait” are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and will be sold at the door.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributor. He can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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