Concerts Will Portray Text, Poetry, and Drama Through Music
Middlebury, Vt.—The Middlebury College Community Chorus and the Champlain Philharmonic will join together for two public concerts on April 5 and 6. Conducted by Jeff Rehbach, these special collaborative performances will explore the idea of text, poetry, and drama through music. The concerts will take place on Saturday, April 5 at Grace Congregational Church in Rutland, and on Sunday, April 6 at Middlebury College’s Mahaney Center for the Arts.
These two community-based ensembles, with 85 singers in the chorus and 40 members in the orchestra, draw their members from Addison, Rutland, and Chittenden counties.
The Middlebury College-Community Chorus traces its roots back to the 1850s when the Middlebury Musical Institute was formed. The Champlain Philharmonic will soon celebrate its tenth anniversary.
This special collaboration features “Reflections of the Sky” by Vermont composer and Middlebury College music professor Peter Hamlin ’73. Middlebury College originally commissioned the work for its bicentennial in 2000. At the time, Hamlin was teaching at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He notes: “This was a thrilling commission, of course, especially because I’m a Middlebury alum. The texts were by four of my favorite poets: Julia Alvarez, Jay Parini and Robert Pack—all with connections to Middlebury—and Langston Hughes. As it turned out, four years later, I found myself joining the music faculty at Middlebury, and have been here ever since.
"Last year, Jeff Rehbach, the splendidly successful director of the Middlebury College-Community Chorus, asked if I would like to recast the piece for choir and orchestra. And this performance is the result.
“For a composer, having one’s music performed is, of course, the ultimate satisfaction. But in this case, the piece is being performed by community groups that I know well, and many of the performers are close friends. So this will not be just another performance for me, and I feel very grateful for it.”
The program will open with Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture (op. 80, 1881) for orchestra. Though entirely instrumental, the work is based on song, incorporating four German student songs, including the popular tune “Gaudeamus igitur.”
The rest of the program features works that portray the idea of story through music, including two well-known Verdi opera choruses: the powerful “Anvil Chorus” from Il Trovatore, and “Va, pensiero” from Nabucco. The program also includes the lighter side of operettas, with excerpts from Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore and The Gondoliers. From the 20th century, the combined ensembles offer American composer Aaron Copland’s “The Promise of Living” from his opera The Tender Land, inspired by Depression-era photos and stories of rural farm life; originally scored for soloists and orchestra. The choral/orchestral version makes its tunes and harmonies come alive.
The first of the two concerts by the Middlebury College Community Chorus and the Champlain Philharmonic will take place on Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 7:30 P.M, at Grace Congregational Church at 8 Court Street in Rutland, Vermont. Tickets are $15 general admission, $10 for seniors, and $5 for students, and will be sold at the door. The second concert will take place on Sunday, April 6, 2014, at 3:00 P.M. in the Concert Hall of Middlebury College’s Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts. The Mahaney Center is located at 72 Porter Field Road in Middlebury, just off Route 30 south. Free parking is available. Tickets for the Middlebury performance are $15 general admission, $12 for Middlebury College faculty, staff, and other ID card holders, and $6 for Middlebury College students. For tickets or information call (802) 443-MIDD (6433) or go to http://www.middlebury.edu/arts.