Western Wind Vocal Sextet to offer
"The Light Returns: Joyous Music for the Holidays"
December 4 at Church of St. Luke in the Field (West Village).
Come for the live show or catch it streaming.
WHERE AND WHEN:
Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 7:00 PM
Church of St. Luke in the Field, 487 Hudson Street (between Christopher and Barrow Streets at the intersection of Grove Street, West Village)
Tickets: $35 Gen. Admission $15 Students & Seniors, $100 Patron ($65 contribution) $50 Friend ($15 contribution).
In-person tickets: http://www.westernwind.org/concerts.html, 212-873-2848.
Live broadcast and streaming on-demand tickets: www.musae.me/westernwind, 212-873-2848.
Ensemble's website: www.westernwind.org
Running time: 75 min. including intermission
Reviewers are invited.
NEW YORK, November 8 – The Grammy-nominated Western Wind Vocal Sextet will present "The Light Returns: Joyous Music for the Holidays" on Saturday, December 4 at 7:00 PM at Church of St. Luke in the Field, 487 Hudson Street, NYC (West Village). The concert will also be live-streamed and available on-demand. The program will include Hebrew, Sephardic and Yiddish Chanukkah Songs, Medieval and Renaissance Christmas Motets and Carols; new works by Gerald Cohen and Yehezkel Braun; and new arrangements of songs by Peter Yarrow, Woody Guthrie and Béla Fleck.
The Western Wind singers are sopranos Linda Lee Jones and Elizabeth van Os, countertenor Eric S. Brenner, tenors Todd Frizzell and David Vanderwal and bass Steven Hrycelak. Instrumentalists appearing are Patricia Davis (violin), Will Holshouser (accordion) and Nir Furman (drums).
Since 1969, the Grammy nominated Western Wind has devoted itself to the special beauty and variety of a cappella music. The New York Times has called them "A kaleidoscopic tapestry of vocal hues." The ensemble's repertoire reveals its diverse background, from Renaissance motets to Fifties rock'n'roll, medieval carols to Duke Ellington, complex works by avant-garde composers to the simplest folk melodies. Visit them at http://www.westernwind.org.
Tickets to "The Light Returns...Joyous Music for the Holidays" are $35 general admission, $15 students & seniors. Patron tickets are $100 ($65 contribution) and Friend tickets are $50 ($15 contribution). For in-person tickets, go to http://www.westernwind.org/concerts.html. For live broadcast and streaming on-demand tickets, go to: www.musae.me/westernwind. For more concert information, please call 212-873-2848 or e-mail: email@example.com.
P R O G R A M
"AND YET THE LIGHT RETURNS" BY GERALD COHEN
This five-minute setting of a poem was composed for the Western Wind in response to their commission for a new piece appropriate for Chanukkah, with an emphasis on the theme of light. The text is by Rami Shapiro, from his poem "Chanukah" from Accidental Grace. The word "light" is passed around the chorus at the beginning and end of the piece, building chords of shifting colors. The outside sections are long-phrased melodies focusing on the return of light, and the middle section, more agitated, on the forces in life that "threaten to smother our light." Commissioned for The Western Wind by Francine M. Gordon through the Zamir Choral Foundation’s Mandell Rosen Fund for New Music.
"PSALM 29" BY YEHEZKAL BRAUN
This setting of the psalm in Hebrew urges us to give glory due to the creator for the majesty and miracle of creation.
The concert will also include debuts of The Western Wind's new arrangements for voices and instruments of Chanukkah songs by three prominent performers: "Light One Joyous Candle" by Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul and Mary), "Happy Joyous Hanukkah" by Woody Guthrie and "Chanukkah Waltz" by Béla Fleck. These new arrangements will be added to The Western Wind's rich repertoire of Christmas and Chanukkah songs, embracing both Jewish and Christian celebrations of the Winter Festivals.
The Nordic Polka - an exuberant a cappella arrangement of a traditional nordic polkas by Anders Edenroth and Matti Kallio.
Hodie for High Voices by the Hungarian composer, Jozsef Karzai (1927-2013).
Nowell/Out of your sleepe -14th Cent. anonymous English carol.
Cherry Tree Carol - the well-known Appalachian carol telling the Xmas story from Joseph's point of view.
Hayo, Haya -Yiddish Chanukkah Song, celebrating the hero, Judas Maccabeus, arranged for voices, accordion and violin by Elliot Z. Levine.
On The Road To Bethlehem by Astor Piazzola (1921-1982), Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger
B A C K G R O U N D
WESTERN WIND: SIGNATURE PERFORMANCES AND RECORDINGS
In the United States, Western Wind has appeared in many distinguished venues, including Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, ArtPark, Ordway Theater, the Metropolitan Museum, the Frick Museum, the Jewish Museum, Folger Shakespeare Library, Library of Congress, and Cleveland Museum of Art.
In Europe, the sextet has appeared at the Geneva Opera, performing works it commissioned: "Batéy" by Tania León and Michel Camilo and "De Orishas" by Tania León. The Western Wind has also recorded early and contemporary American vocal music for the German National Radio at Cologne and made several triumphant tours of northern Italy, performing Italian Renaissance as well as American music. The group has appeared with the RAI Orchestra and Chorus of Rome at the Rome Opera and at Venice's legendary opera house, Teatro La Fenice. In 1985, The Western Wind premiered Cesar Franck's opera, "Stradella," for La Fenice in an outdoor Venetian setting. At the request of the State Department (USIA), The Western Wind has also performed American and Latin American music throughout East Asia. In March 2012 The Western Wind was invited to inaugurate the first Australian Jewish Choral Festival, performed widely in the Sydney area and created a special program for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 2007, The Western Wind won the ASCAP-Chamber Music America Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music. In addition to their many live performances, The Western Wind appears frequently on radio, television, film and CD. A series of public radio holiday specials by The Western Wind has been broadcast nationwide since 1989 and the group has been televised on The Today Show (NBC). On film, the ensemble sings music by Philip Glass in the movies "Koyaanisqatsi" (Nonesuch Records) and "Candyman."
Public Radio holiday programming includes "Chanukkah in Story & Song," narrated by Leonard Nimoy, "The Birthday of The World: Music and traditions of the High Holy Days, narrated by Leonard Nimoy and "Holiday Light: Singing Angels, Silver Bells," narrated by Roma Downey, which have all become public radio perennials. Award-winning recordings include "I Am the Rose of Sharon: Early American Vocal Music" (Grammy nominee, 1973) and "The Happy Journey" (both Early American Vocal Music), "Christmas in the New World" and "Holiday Light" (Christmas); "Mazal Bueno, A Portrait in Song of the Spanish Jews," narrated by Tovah Feldshuh; "Taste of Eternity, A Musical Shabbat," "The Passover Story," narrated by Theo Bikel; "Blessings and Batéy," featuring music by David Darling, Tania León, and Michel Camilo; "My Funny Valentine" (Pop and Jazz) and "Man in The Moon: music of Robert Dennis." A CD featuring two works written for The Western Wind by Meredith Monk and Eric Salzman was chosen album of the week by WQXR Q2. Western Wind's latest release is "We Are Still Here – The Holocaust Through Music & Memory." A version of this program, narrated by Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht, is distributed to public radio stations by Public Radio International.
The Western Wind presents workshops in ensemble singing at Smith College and other venues in Washington, DC and Vermont. The ensemble is in residence at several New York City public high schools, providing intensive instruction in ensemble and solo repertoire as well as interdisciplinary lecture demonstrations. (www.westernwind.org)
COMPOSERS IN THIS PROGRAM
Gerald Cohen has been praised for his "linguistic fluidity and melodic gift," creating music that "reveals a very personal modernism that…offers great emotional rewards" (Gramophone Magazine). His opera, "Steal a Pencil for Me," based on a true concentration camp love story, had its world premiere by Opera Colorado in January 2018. His operas "Sarah and Hagar," based on the story from the book of Genesis, and "Seed," a one-act about love and choices for a post-apocalyptic couple, have been performed in concert form.
Cohen is a noted synagogue cantor and baritone; his experience as a singer informs his dramatic, lyrical compositions. Cohen’s best-known work, his "shimmering setting" (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) of Psalm 23, has received thousands of performances from synagogues and churches to Carnegie Hall and the Vatican. Recent instrumental compositions include Voyagers, a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Voyager spacecraft, which had its premiere at New York’s Hayden Planetarium; and Playing for our lives, a tribute to the music and musicians of the WWII Terezin concentration camp near Prague. Cohen is cantor at Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, NY and is on the faculties of The Jewish Theological Seminary and Hebrew Union College.
Yehezkel Braun (1922 -2014), raised and educated in Israel, is most known for his choral music. A 2001 Israel Prize laureate, he is probably the most published Israeli composer, with over 120 works published by the Israel Music Institute. He studied at the Tel-Aviv Academy of Music and later at the St. Pierre de Solesmes Monastery in France, where he researched Gregorian Chant. Between 1979 and 1981 he chaired that academy, where he taught from 1982 to1990. Braun’s attraction for folklore was consistent throughout his life. His work with modal music – mainly traditional Mizrahi tunes (Yemenite), but also some Ashkenazi ones and Israeli folklore (Russian-French influenced), which he compared with Gregorian chant, led him to conclude that there is common basis, a certain pentatonic scale, for Jewish cantilation – Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Yemenite alike, and that basis is related to parts of Gregorian chant. Hence, "It is certainly not an accident that the pentatonic scale serves as a starting point in many of my compositions."
SINGERS OF THE WESTERN WIND VOCAL SEXTET
Eric S. Brenner (countertenor) has been hailed for his "penetrating eloquence" (NY Times), "astonishing musicality" (NY Classical Review) and "Mr. Roboto majesty" (Stage Mage). You may recognize him as the angry monk just to Madonna's right in footage from the 2018 Met Gala. Brenner is countertenor soloist in recent performances and recording of Hannah Lash's "Requiem" (Naxos) and Du Yun's Pulitzer Prize winning "Angel's Bone" (VIA Records). Other engagements include: alto soloist in Vivaldi's "Introduction & Gloria" at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue; soprano and alto soloist in Handel's "Messiah" at Avery Fisher (Geffen) and Alice Tully Hall; Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms" at St. Thomas Church, St. John the Divine, and St. Ignatius Loyola; soprano in collaborative concerts with Les Canards Chantant and the Folger Consort at the National Cathedral; Doodle in "Scarlet Ibis" by Stefan Weisman and David Cote; and Poet in Virko Baley's "Holodomor" in Ukraine. Brenner is also co-composer with Matt Shloss of music for Rob Reese's Yahweh's Follies. He writes fiction and persists in being an incorrigible Mets fan. (www.ericsbrenner.com)
Todd Frizzell (tenor) was reared in Denver Colorado. He has spent the last 25 years performing in San Francisco, Hawaii, and New York City. He has been featured on ABC-TV's Nightline, singing music from a Mass written in the first millennium which he also performed in Limoges, France in May 2001. He has performed internationally with New York's Ensemble for Early Music. He serenaded Dame Judi Dench in June 2000 at Broadway's Ethyl Barrymore Theater. He was the tenor soloist in Handel's "Israel in Egypt" at Avery Fisher Hall with the National Chorale and soloist at Alice Tully Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra. He has performed with the Choir of St. Luke in the Fields, The New York Virtuoso Singers, Musica Antica at St. Bart's and the New York Concert Singers and has appeared at the Bard College Festival.
Steven Hrycelak (bass) hails from Rochester, NY and is equally at home performing early and very new music. He has degrees in Music from Yale (where he sang with the world-renowned Whiffenpoofs) and Vocal Performance from Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. He appears regularly with Blue Heron, Pegasus, NYS State Baroque, Publick Musick, Meridionalis, and the Yale Choral Artists and is a member of the Grammy-nominated Choir of Trinity Wall Street. In new music, he performs with Ekmeles, Toby Twining Music, the New York Virtuoso Singers and the SEM Ensemble, among others. As an opera singer, he has performed with Bard Summerscape, Opera Omnia, Musica Nuova, and Union Avenue Opera. He is also a vocal coach/accompanist.
Linda Lee Jones (soprano), raised in New Orleans, is a soprano, teacher and massage therapist in New York City and Central New Jersey. She has performed with prominent choral groups including Musica Sacra, the New York Choral Artists, St. Ignatius Loyola Church and the Mostly Mozart Festival as well as with some of the world's finest orchestras and conductors. Ms. Jones is a member of the professional Chorale of the Carmel Bach Festival in Carmel, CA and sings regularly with the choir of Trinity Wall Street. As a soloist, she has appeared with the Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, the Louisiana Vocal Arts Chorale, the Masterwork Chorus of NJ and the Argento Chamber Ensemble in New York. Before relocating to New Jersey, she served as Director of Music for Munholland United Methodist Church in New Orleans, where she worked with choristers of all ages. Ms. Jones hold a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Loyola University.
Elizabeth van Os (soprano) is one of New York City's most dynamic performers, making waves not only as soloist and ensemble member but also as a co-founder of the non-profit Pleiades Project. Opera-zine parterre noted her "striking impression" and Voce di Meche praised her "lovely, affecting" voice and "justifiable passion." Born Elizabeth Smith, she holds performance degrees from the Eastman School of Music and Brigham Young University in Idaho. (www.elizabethvanos.com)
David Vanderwal (tenor) hails from Portland, Oregon. He has performed as a soloist with The American Bach Soloists, Seattle Baroque Orchestra, Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, New York Collegium and Tafelmusik. Recently Mr. Vanderwal performed in Handel's "Messiah" with the St. Paul's Cathedral Choirs of Buffalo, NY, Pax Christi of Toronto, ON, Danbury (CT) Symphony Orchestra, The Mendelssohn Choir (CT) and First Congregational Church of Greenwich, CT. He performed Bach's "Easter Oratorio" and a new concert, "Mass of John Tavener," with the Choir of St. Thomas Church in New York. Mr. Vanderwal appeared at the Carmel Bach Festival in California and taught at the International Bachakademie's Stuttgart Festival in Überlingen, Germany. He also presents a set of song recitals throughout the year.
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REVIEWERS are invited.
You must show proof of vaccination to attend the live performance.
Masks are required at all times for all live audience members.
Performers will not be masked.