Pro Cantare opening season tomorrow with 2 masterworks

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Howard Live

October 28, 2005|By EILEEN SOSKIN | EILEEN SOSKIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

If you would like to take a break after a day of raking leaves, Columbia Pro Cantare is offering up a glorious fall program tomorrow night in Jim Rouse Theatre at Wilde Lake High School. To begin its 29th season, under the direction of founder and artistic director Frances Motyca Dawson, Columbia Pro Cantare will perform a program featuring two choral masterworks, as well as three pieces that showcase the talents of some special soloists.

The programmatic glories begin with two settings of the Gloria movement of the Latin Mass (a hymn of praise taken from the angelic account of the Nativity in Luke 2:14), one by a Baroque Italian composer, Antonio Vivaldi, and one by early 20th-century French composer Francis Poulenc.

Vivaldi, best known for his more than 500 concerti, was also an extremely prolific composer of vocal music. His compositional catalog includes approximately 50 operas and many sacred works, including Masses, psalms and solo cantatas. Vivaldi's Gloria was written while he was teaching at an orphanage for girls, and it is probably his best-known choral piece. It is written for soprano and alto soloists, full chorus and orchestra, and it contains 12 movements, including a duet for the soloists. Like all of his music, the Gloria is alternately robust and contemplative, but whatever the mood it pulses along consistently, in true Baroque fashion, never failing to stir the listener to tap his toes along with the music.

Poulenc's Gloria, composed in 1959, just four years before his death, is a rhythmically vibrant work, unmistakably French in its clear harmonies, crisp melodies and light touch. Poulenc never embarked on a search for a new musical language like so many of his colleagues, preferring to rely on the system of tonality in which the masterpieces of 18th- and 19th-century music were written. This upbeat work will close the program.

To complement these choral works, the orchestra, with featured violin soloist Ronald Mutchnik, will perform Autumn from Vivaldi's Four Seasons. This piece is a vivid reflection of falling leaves and approaching winter weather, although there is no musical depiction of either a leaf blower or the sound of a rake.

The program will be rounded out by the two vocal soloists, soprano April-Joy Gutierrez and mezzo-soprano Mary Ann McCormick, who will each perform a song for voice and orchestra by Ernest Chausson (1855-1899). These two pieces, with their gentle French sensibilities, will enchant listeners.

A free preconcert lecture will be held from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and all concertgoers are invited to a free post-concert dessert reception. Those who attend can meet and mingle with the performers. Information: 301-854-0107 or 410-799-9321. Advance tickets are $23 for adults and $20 for senior citizens and students; tickets at the door are $25 and $22.

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