The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble and conductor Dominick DiOrio will present a concert of choral music written within the past 35 years.
The concert will begin with Moses Hogan’s Hold On (2002). Hogan, who passed away in 2003 at age 45, was known for his compelling arrangements of African-American spirituals. Hold On is an excellent example of Hogan’s style, offering clever part-writing and counterpoint that give depth to a uncomplicated melody.
Australian composer Melissa Dunphy’s What do you think I fought for at Omaha Beach? (2010), is a moving setting of text from testimony by WWII veteran Philip Spooner in support of same-sex marriage in Maine. This lyrical work, with close harmonies and long phrases, offers a thoughtful contrast to the Hogan.
Wie ein Kind (1980), by the Danish composer Per Nørgård is strikingly different from the first two works. The title, which translates as “Like a child,” comes from a poem by Rainer Maria Rilke that Nørgård sets in the second movement. The text in the first movement comes from the Swiss artist Adolf Wölfli, a schizophrenic whose work fascinated Nørgård. The setting is full of strange cries and the two movements offer a stylistic contrast in line with the contrast between their text sources. This kind of contrast is typical of Nørgård’s work of that period, which focuses on divisions and the simultaneous presence of happiness and disaster in life.
Zachary Wadsworth’s War-Dreams (2011) is the newest work on the program. The text comes from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, and William Byrd’s Bow thine ear. Stanzas of the Whitman are interwoven with lines of Byrd, forming a call and response through the centuries between the two writers.
The program concludes with the Scottish composer James MacMillan’s Cantos Sagrados (1989), a multi-movement work that taps into the composer’s interest in liberation theology, particularly as it pertains to Latin America. The texts are from poems of Ariel Dorfman and Ana Maria Mendoza, and sacred texts. As a conclusion to this concert, MacMillan’s work offers a synthesis of the styles heard earlier, bringing together lyrical writing and controversial subject matter with a modern compositional sensibility.