From the Director
As we approach our CAE Pops!: The Great American Songbook concerts this weekend, I find myself laughing a bit as I think back over the repertoire so far this season. We started in October with a very diverse set of songs about the elements – including songs about shipwrecks, storms, volcanoes (who knew these existed), and trees, among other things. Then we sang a more traditional December concert at the grotto, and then four amazing concerts of Handel’s Messiah with the Portland Chamber Orchestra. And now, as I look over the repertoire for this weekend, I realize how far removed it is from anything we’ve done previously. Diverse repertoire is our hallmark, though, so in some ways, this should not surprise me.
Last February we sang choruses from Broadway and Opera, and we had a blast doing so. And from that was born the idea of CAE Pops! We didn’t invent the pops concert of course, and generally it is the province of orchestras. But last year, our audience made it very clear that it works for choirs as well. So we’re back with another one that we hope will be equally as enjoyable for you – the Great American Songbook.
Researching this one was fun! The traditional definition of the Great American Songbook usually centers on the years 1900-1950, and many scholars deem it ending as Rock and Roll begins. We wanted to go a bit further, particularly historically. So we went back to the Colonial era and forward to the early 1960s. And while the Great American Songbook is also traditionally centered on Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and film, we included folksongs, hymns, spirituals, patriotic music, jazz standards and a few other odds and ends that have helped defined music in this country. The composer names will be familiar – Foster, Cohan, Berlin, Gershwin(s), Mancini. So will many of the titles (I won’t list them all) – Down to the River to Pray, Oh! Susanna, Dixie, Over There, Black is the Color of My True Love’s Hair, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, I’ll Be Seeing You, Moon River…the list goes on and on. Honestly, we could have made this a 5-day long concert with all of the great music we initially proposed! And as with last year’s concert, we’ll feature many individual members of the choir- in solos and small groups.
Which brings us back to the opening paragraph – from Messiah in December…to imitating a banjo in March. It’s certainly never boring around here, that’s for sure!
See you all at the concerts!