March 23, 2003

Columbia Pro Cantare

For tickets, write to Columbia Pro Cantare, 5404 Iron Pen Place, Columbia 21044 or 410-465-5744. Information: Frances Motyca Dawson, director: 410-730-8549 or www. ~columbiaprocantare

Columbia Pro Cantare, Columbia's homegrown chorus, was established in 1977 by artistic director Frances Motyca Dawson.

"We started Pro Cantare to give singers in Howard County an opportunity to perform the best choral literature available -- both familiar and unfamiliar -- with professional soloists and a professional orchestra," said Dawson, a choral conductor.

Its first concert was in 1977 with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra at Goucher College. Since then, the critically acclaimed Pro Cantare has performed vocal and choral compositions from the 10th to the 21st centuries. It has included Czech, Hungarian and Polish music and continues to perform music of different ethnic groups.

The chorus presented a concert of Jewish music two years ago, a concert of African-American music last year and will perform a concert of Irish music in May. Concerts range from oratorio and opera to show tunes and spirituals.

"We're trying to move in as many different directions as we can," Dawson said. "We left Eastern Europe for a while to add more diversity. One concert per season has been devoted to the music of other countries and ethnic groups."

The chorus has performed 14 world premieres, including 12 commissioned works of Maryland composers and 16 premieres nationwide of works culled by Dawson from Czech archives before and after the fall of the former Soviet Union.

The chorus has performed in venues ranging from the opening of the Inner Harbor in 1980 to the 80th anniversary of the founding of Czechoslovakia at the National Cathedral of Washington -- at the request of the Czech Embassy. Pro Cantare also produced the musical celebration of Columbia's 20th anniversary, "Hail Columbia," that featured Columbia founder James W. Rouse narrating Aaron Copland's Lincoln Portrait at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Last year, it sang at the Howard County "Remembrance" commemoration of Sept. 11, 2001.

Pro Cantare has 135 choral members, from teens through seniors, from Howard and nearby counties, as well as Baltimore. They rehearse at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Hammond High School in Columbia. For events that include the full chorus, professional soloists and an orchestra are hired.

Six years ago, the company added the Columbia Pro Cantare Chamber Singers, a smaller ensemble of about 24 vocalists who can sing works that are too complex for a larger chorus and with more flexibility for performing in smaller venues.

The Columbia Pro Cantare performance season runs from September through May. A free lecture usually is held before each concert.

Each year, generally on the first Sunday in December, Pro Cantare presents Handel's Messiah.

The company also presented this season its sixth annual concert of "Christmas Noel" with the Pro Cantare Chamber Singers singing mostly a cappella, and "Mozart: Requiem and Arias," which commemorated the victims of Sept. 11, 2001. The program featured two soloists from New York's Metropolitan Opera Company.

The next performance will be John Rutter's Requiem at 3:30 p.m. March 30 at Second Presbyterian Church in Baltimore. The free program will include the music of Pachelbel, Wolf and Berlioz, celebrating the 200th anniversary of Berlioz's birth.

"From Ireland, on Wings of Song" will be presented at 8 p.m. May 3 at the Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts in Columbia. The program will feature music from 1000 A.D., beginning with early chorales through the present. It will include "A Return to Old Ireland," composed by Mary McAuliffe of Dublin, who will speak during the pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m. The concert will include uilleann pipes, a Celtic harp and a fiddler.

Next season's roster includes a jazz performance showcasing the works of jazz greats Dave Brubeck and Eric Mintel at 3:30 p.m. March 21 next year at Presbyterian Church in Baltimore and the music of Peter Schickele at 8 p.m. May 1 next year at the Jim Rouse Theatre.

Advance tickets are $23 and $20 for seniors and students. Tickets purchased at the door are an additional $2.

Sundays at Three Chamber Music Series Christ Episcopal Church, 6800 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia. Information: 410-381-3240 or

Sundays at Three presents a chamber music series at an unlikely venue -- a church. But it originated in 1996 as an offshoot of the defunct chamber group Music in Common to perpetuate the vision of the chamber group's founder, the late cellist Daniel Malkin, that local talent should be appreciated.

"Daniel was a wonderful musician and he raised attention that there is talent here that should have a forum to be heard and appreciated by local audiences," said violinist Ronald Mutchnik, a co-founder of Sundays at Three. "You don't have to bring in international symphonies to hear good music."

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