From the director

De_Lyser_cropped3 more days until our opening concert! Tickets are still on sale at the advanced discounted price, so you won’t want to miss that opportunity. For today, we give you some additional thoughts about our October concerts from our director, David De Lyser. You can also hear David talk about our performances tonight, from 6-7pm, by tuning into All Classical 89.9FM, or streaming live on their website; just click “Listen” right on the home page. We hope to see you all this weekend, and we thank you for your continued support of CAE!!!

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OK, I’m not going to lie to you – this concert was a lot of fun to put together!  And as usual, I had a lot of help.  What I find interesting is the way in which composers have used the classical elements of Earth, Water, Fire and Air throughout history – literally, figuratively, spiritually, and metaphorically.

Susan’s wonderful program notes have already been posted, as well as contributions from Elizabeth and Doug about John Donne and Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae, so I wanted to share just a few thoughts with you about a few pieces and the rehearsal process.

We are very happy to be presenting more of Ola Gjeilo’s music, of which the choir has become big fans.  “Tundra,” sung by the women, is an amazingly visual piece that depicts parts of the landscape of Gjeilo’s native Norway.  As Copland was able to depict the space of the American West in his music, Gjeilo layers the sound to create a musical presentation of this barren landscape – fast moving strings underneath, lush, slower moving chords above, and a soaring soprano solo over the top of everything.  It is stunning.

The centerpiece of the concert is Canticum Calamitatis Maritimae.  The tragedy that inspired this piece is captured on so many levels.  It has taken us a while to get our heads around everything going on in this piece and what it means.  Mäntyjärvi’s use of drones, chant, whispered prayers, a haunting folk song, text from the original news reports, Psalm 107 and the Requiem Mass, and some of the most dramatic choral writing we’ve ever sung combine to produce and extremely powerful and emotional work for art.

We start the second half with one of the strangest works I’ve ever run into.  Weelkes begins the piece with the following: “Thule, the period of Cosmography.”  OK, who writes about Cosmography?  And in 1600 no less!  But in typical Renaissance fashion, he connects the dichotomy of a volcano amidst the snow and ice of the “land beyond the know borders” to his passion, which causes him to both freeze with fear and burn with love.  Masterful – well done Thomas.

Some of the pieces we chose presented a bit of a quandary.  Mendelssohn puts all four elements in “Behold, God the Lord.”  Gjeilo’s “Across the Vast Eternal Sky” hits air and fire.  And we may have stretched the boundaries a bit with Beethoven, as he wasn’t the one who named his sonata “Tempest.”  But I think you’ll agree that the music fits, especially with the following piece that talks of a wind blowing for good or ill.

We are very excited to present these opening concerts of our 2013-2014 season.  This is the start of my second season conducting the CAE.  One of the choir members made a good point about the ensemble compared to last year.  As it was my first year, the choir and I were “dating,” trying to learn about each other.  Now we’re an old married couple –as comfortable with each other as possible.  And we are having a lot of fun!  We hope you will come and share in it.