As he celebrates 20 years with the Annapolis Chorale, Music Director J. Ernest Green can't help but reflect upon how far the chorale has come.
It has gone from a small group of dedicated singers performing once or twice a year in 1985 to today's multifaceted, nearly 300-member organization known for musical excellence and creative programming.
Green looks forward to the new season, but he's staying active in many other ways as well.
He devoted half the summer to his 17th season with the Young Victorian Theatre Company to bring William S. Gilbert and Arthur S. Sullivan's works to Baltimore. This required Green to commute three times a week to Roland Park - a 40-minute drive on which a number of Annapolis Chorale members joined him to form more than half of the Young Vic chorus.
This season had added significance because film and television actor Kevin Kilner starred as the Pirate King in The Pirates of Penzance, which ran from July 5 to 18 at Bryn Mawr's Centennial Hall in Roland Park. A Baltimore native and Johns Hopkins alumnus, Kilner made his hometown stage debut to benefit the Ciccarone Preventive Cardiology Center at Johns Hopkins, which is named in honor of his former lacrosse coach, Henry Ciccarone, who died of heart disease at age 50.
The day after Pirates closed, Green was at the Kennedy Center conducting the Annapolis Chorale Chamber Chorus in a concert for the Americans for the Arts conference. Green is also in his fourth season as cover conductor with the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington - a job that requires him to be ready to step in for the conductor at a moment's notice.
In this position, he has worked with artists such as Sir James Galway, Pinchas Zuckerman, Osmo Vanska, Marvin Hamlisch and Renee Fleming.
Having conducted NSO in a memorable outdoor summer concert at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Washington, Green moves closer to home Sept. 6 when he conducts the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra's "Summer's End" Labor Day concert at Quiet Waters Park.
He's also serving his fifth season as music director of the Falls Church Chamber Orchestra, and next season he will become music director of the Mozart Festival Opera conducting The Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni during the company's North American tour.
On the home front, Green has stayed busy making improvements to his family's newly renovated Severna Park residence and at his parents' house in Heritage Harbor. Green and his wife, Molly, have two children, Alec, 9, and Ella, 5.
Green shares his enthusiasm for the coming season of his first love - the Annapolis Chorale.
"This is going to be a wonderful season full of great music," Green said. "Subscriptions are way up already. Maybe it's because people have discovered that our concerts are fun and exciting. The programs for next season are packed with powerful music, great soloists and a wonderful orchestra."
The Annapolis Chorale's 2004-2005 season begins Sept. 11 with a performance of The Pirates of Penzance.
Oct. 9 will bring Verdi's Requiem, about which Green says, "Doing the Verdi Requiem is always exciting with this chorus. It's the Mount Everest of choral music. The big sound of the full chorus is just incredible, and the idea of hearing them going full tilt on that piece is mind-blowing."
The season will include two performances of Handel's Messiah at St. Anne's Episcopal Church.
On Jan. 15, the annual fund-raiser will celebrate Green's 20th anniversary with a celebrity roast titled "The Importance of Being J. Ernest," featuring a bevy of longtime favorite soloists.
On Feb. 11 and 12, the chorale will present Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel for the annual Broadway in Concert offering.
On April 2, the Annapolis Chorale Chamber Chorus will present Pergolesi's Stabat Mater and Vivaldi's Gloria.
The season concludes April 30 with Felix Mendelssohn's Elijah, the chorale's first performance of this work.
For more information, visit www.annapolischorale.org. To order subscription tickets, call 410-263-1906.