Society to sing classic carols

Vocal group's selections will also include pieces by Bach and Bruckner


Arundel Live

November 29, 2001|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Musically, the Christmas season begins in earnest Sunday at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, where the Arundel Vocal Arts Society will perform lovely choral works and traditional carols.

The first half of the program will feature Anton Bruckner's masterful Te Deum and Psalm 150, followed by two more familiar works: Cesar Franck's Panis Angelicus and J.S. Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring.

The program's second half will offer a selection of carols. Few choristers can match the Vocal Artists in expressive singing of traditional carols, one of the true joys of the holiday season.

Having done large Masses for the past several seasons, with an unforgettable performance of Puccini's Mesa di Gloria in December, Arundel Vocal Arts Society Director Glenette Schumacher has now chosen to go a different route. Instead of another Mass, the chorus and soloists will tackle something more demanding in the two Bruckner pieces.

Bruckner, some of whose work is flamboyant and bombastic enough to be compared to Wagner's, composed Te Deum and Psalm 150 during his later years, when his music was marked by interesting structures and tonal tension, as well as a deeply felt religiosity. The composer considered Te Deum to be his finest work. Psalm 150 also reflects Bruckner's more mature style.

Schumacher is a Bruckner fan.

"The thing I like about Bruckner is his lovely part writing," she said. "The total effect was the first thing that attracted me, but the more I studied the four vocal parts, the more I appreciated how good he was. The other day one of the altos commented that even the alto part is pretty, and I think it's true of all the parts.

"With some other composers, even Beethoven, one gets the feeling that one of the parts, usually alto or tenor, was left till last on whatever note the composer needed at the time. That was what the part got. But that's not so with Bruckner. It's a sign of a masterful writer."

Schumacher described the other two pieces on the first part of the program, the Bach and the Franck, as "the real workhorses of the choral repertoire."

The pieces, she added, "have the big block chorus parts that I think we do well."

Vicki Shaw is the soprano soloist on the Bruckner pieces. Susan von Subrke, the mezzo soloist, is described by Schumacher as "a seasoned performer who has a lovely rich voice."

Tenor Tom Magette is well-liked by audiences in the Annapolis area. Bass Paul Edson has worked with the Washington Opera.

Schumacher is especially pleased to have drummer Bill Wilson, an old friend and head of the music department at Essex Community College, join the orchestra for the program.

Selections in the second half of the program will be: "O Tannenbaum," "I Wonder as I Wander," "The Snow Lay on the Ground" and "Ding Dong Merrily on High."

In the finale, the orchestra will return to accompany the vocal society and audience carolers in favorites including "Silent Night," "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Joy to the World."

St. Martin's Lutheran Church is on Spa Road at Forest Drive, Showtime is 3 p.m. Tickets cost $15 and can be ordered by calling 410-268-3131.

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