Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 4:51 pm | A Few Clouds 66º


Gerald Carpenter: UCSB Women’s Chorus, Soloists to Sing ‘Voices of Our Age’

Newly named ensemble will perform Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Church

An exciting concert with an awkward name will happen this week, courtesy of the UCSB Department of Music.

Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen in 2009
Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen in 2009

At the end of every academic quarter, we hear from the UCSB ensemble now known as the Women’s Chorus and Soloists of the Vocal Area — previous names were even longer, if not quite so vague — and these events always have interesting programs, in addition to being gloriously well-sung. This one, with the title “Voices of Our Age,” will be performed at 8 p.m. Thursday in Trinity Episcopal Church, 1500 State St. in Santa Barbara.

As you might expect from the title, the program is a somewhat quixotic attempt to bring us up to speed with the vocal music that is being composed right now in the Western world. The complete program has not yet become available, but if the highlights I have seen are representative, the emphasis is on the thoughtful and accessible, rather than the weird or shocking.

We will hear, for instance, Eric Whitacre’s “Five Hebrew Love Songs” and Richard Kidd’s “Wind Song,” as well as a significant work by Finnish composer Aulis Sallinen and pieces by other composers with a similar focus on making music rather than an impression — all under the baton of the multitalented Helena von Rueden.

Whitacre (born in1970) is, of course, one of the best-known and most performed of contemporary American composers, particularly in the realm of choral music.

Kidd (born in England in 1954) is a Canadian composer, and “Wind Song” is his most popular work to date. To his fans’ dismay, it has not yet been recorded, so you have to hear it live. The publisher says of the work: “The text of ‘Wind Song’ is derived from the names for different types and characters of winds found all over the globe. Each wind is presented in its own language, and the mood of each is reflected in the music. The piece is in three sections of contrasting moods.”

Sallinen (born in 1935) is the oldest of the three, by nearly 20 years, and he has been for some time a substantial presence in European music, if not in the United States. His music is modern, though tonal. His choral works do not, numerically, dominate his output — which includes six operas, eight symphonies, concertos for violin, cello, flute and horn, and many chamber works — though what there is is quite memorable.

Tickets to “Voices of Our Age” are $15 for general admission and $7 for students, and may be purchased 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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