Music for all in new season

Classical: Annapolis Chorale shows strength in numbers and a flair for artistry.


Arundel Live

Arts and entertainment in Anne Arundel County

September 16, 2005|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Annapolis Chorale is a prodigious musical force not only in size but in talent and versatility. With its membership approaching 350, it is Anne Arundel County's largest performing arts entity.

Music Director J. Ernest Green estimates the full chorus now totals "almost 200 members, the youth chorus is at 120 and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra has 30 core members."

On Monday, Green took some time to talk about the chorale before rushing off to conduct that evening's National Symphony Orchestra concert at the request of NSO Principal Pops Conductor Marvin Hamlisch.

Praised for its excellent performances, the Annapolis Chorale is equally lauded for innovative and eclectic classical and pops programming.

Green said his foremost goal is "to get people reconnected to live music by making it exciting and fun through offering programs that are accessible to a broad range of people. Live music is fun, and that's why you should hear our concerts."

`We are blessed'

Green continued, "We are blessed at the chorale with the best audiences who appreciate how exciting live music is both at Maryland Hall and St. Anne's. This season we'll remind our audience of this fact in our opening classical concert when they hear the full chorus going full tilt with Bruckner's Te Deum."

Not only does the new season offer music for everyone, it also offers musical explorations in interactive concerts rarely found elsewhere.

The new season begins Oct. 1 with a concert version of the 1972 Tony Award-winning musical Pippin by Stephen Schwartz. This whimsical story of the son of Charlemagne who searches for his true calling, trying politics and war before settling for a life with the widow Catherine and her son, is told through delightful tunes.

Chorale favorite Ryan de Ryke will play Pippin, James Rogers will play his father, Carolyn Black-Sotir will play Catherine, Laurie Hays will be Fastrada and Catrin Davies will be Bertha.

Howard University student L.C. Harden will make his chorale debut as Leading Player, a role originated by Ben Vereen, and Peabody student Jason Buckwalter, Annapolis Youth Chorus singer Ben Hale and musician-songwriter Dan Haas will be featured in this partially staged concert version with full orchestral accompaniment.

Classical opener

The first classical concert is scheduled for Nov. 5 with Heaven and Earth, which includes Anton Bruckner's Te Deum and the prologue to Mefistofele by Arrigo Boito, complete with two choruses on stage and one in the balcony and a brass section off stage.

All four groups will play at once, bringing surround sound to Maryland Hall.

The annual Celebration of Christmas concerts will be presented Dec. 8-9 and will feature the full chorus, the youth chorus and the chamber orchestra and special guests.

The Annapolis Chorale will perform Handel's Messiah on Dec. 16 (the full work) and Dec. 18 (a family version that includes Part I of Messiah followed by a carol sing-along) at historic St. Anne's Episcopal Church.

The annual gala at Loews Annapolis Hotel, celebrating moments from Broadway and opera - along with dinner and festivities - is scheduled for Jan. 21.

Feb. 3-4, Rodgers and Hammerstein's South Pacific will be offered as the chorale's annual Broadway in Concert selection.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 250th birthday will be celebrated March 3 and 4 when Green conducts the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra in Symphony No. 1, followed by The Impresario - a short comic opera about two sopranos competing for the lead in a new production the impresario must produce.

The concert concludes with Mozart's Requiem, which was so movingly performed Sept. 11, 2002, at a memorial anniversary concert in Maryland Hall.

The season closes April 8 with J. S. Bach's Mass in B minor by the chamber chorus, mezzo soprano Susan Fleming and the chamber orchestra - a rarely heard work considered by many the pinnacle of the choral repertoire.

Youth concerts

Now an integral part of the Chorale family, the expanded Annapolis Youth Chorus, directed by Laurie J. Hayes, will be heard in holiday concerts and in a May concert.

For the fourth season, the chorale and St. Anne's Episcopal Church will present the Washington Symphonic Brass and the Kennedy Center Chamber Players.

Also scheduled are two interactive concerts to be conducted by Green.

Subscriptions are still available for the full season. For information call 410-263-1906 or visit

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