Archive » November 20, 2008
MISSION, UCSB JOIN IN HOMAGE
By Margo Kline, Staff Writer
The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Chamber Choir will inaugurate a concert series at Old Mission Santa Inés on Nov. 23 with its program, “Hymn to St. Cecilia,” honoring the patron saint of music.
Michel Marc Gervais, the choir’s director, chose music dedicated to St. Cecilia.
The choir will sing twentieth century choral works, including “Hymn to St. Cecilia” by Benjamin Britten, “Villarosa sarialdi” by Thomas Jannefelt and sacred works by American composers Eric Whitacre and Morten Lauridsen.
The concert is the first in a series of four by the UCSB group at the historic mission. The quarterly concerts will be free and open to the public.
Gervais, who is director of choral studies at the university and who came up with the idea for the series, is enthusiastic about the project.
“It is a great and highly fitting way to begin this series of concerts,” he said. “I am delighted with the launching of this new collaboration with Mission Santa Inés. Some years ago, in the course of two concert tours of the California missions, the Chamber Choir had very successful concerts in the valley, and we have since been longing to return to Mission Santa Inés.
“I believe this type of community outreach is extremely important, and I am hopeful that, through its free concerts at the mission, the university students and I may be able to make a positive contribution to the valley’s classical music scene.”
Before coming to UCSB in 1995, Gervais founded the Pro Coro Canada professional choir and established several choir schools internationally. In recognition of his contributions to the choral arts, he was made a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the Republic of France.
The Chamber Choir is made up of 34 music majors and others from UCSB and the Santa Barbara community. It specializes in virtuoso a cappella choral music from the Renaissance to the 20th century. The choir has participated in a number of international concert tours and has made seven CD recordings.
The mission’s Father Michael Mahoney believes this is a good way for the community to benefit from the choir.
“We’re very pleased that the UCSB Chamber Choir is coming to our mission,” Mahoney said. “It is an excellent place for a choir to perform. The setting is a beautiful 200-year-old building with superb acoustics. We are honored to be able to provide this opportunity for the entire community to enjoy wonderful music by this highly acclaimed choir.”
The main piece, the work by Benjamin Britten composed during World War II, is set to a poem by fellow Englishman W.H. Auden, who wrote the verses between 1940 and 1942. Auden dedicated the poem to the composer because Britten had for a long time contemplated writing a work dedicated to St. Cecilia.
Not only was Britten born on the saint’s name day in 1913, but he wanted to follow in the footsteps of the poet John Dryden who wrote “A song for St. Cecilia’s Day” in 1687.
In addition, musical tributes to the saint were written by British composers Henry Purcell, Hubert Parry and George Frideric Handel, who was born in Germany but lived and worked in England for a large part of his life.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 23, at Old Mission Santa Inés, 1760 Mission Drive in Solvang. More information is available by telephone at (805) 893-3230 or online at www.music.ucsb.edu.
The Chamber Choir will present the same concert two days earlier, Nov. 21, at 8 p.m. at St. Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara, 2300 Garden St.
Reach Margo Kline at firstname.lastname@example.org.