Bay Choral Guild’s Pacific Passions

One of my favorite performing groups, the Bay Choral Guild, began a three-night series of concerts featuring choral music written by living, West coast composers.  This unusual format produces what I think is one of the richest and most deeply-textured performances by BCG in recent memory. The unifying motif for the music we heard this evening encompassed a wide range of musical styles, as well as different kinds of texts set to music. However, most of the pieces were based on either some kind of love poetry or sacred verse or hymn.  The work of thirteen composers, including BCG Artistic Director Sanford Dole, was represented on the program.

There were several pieces that were remarkable, and some that were simply thrilling.  One that I rather liked was “The Dimensions of Love” composed by L. Peter Deutsch, who is also a member of BCG. This piece is based on a poem of the same name by E. E. Cummings.  However the piece immediately following by Morten Lauridsen was, for me, the highlight of the evening. “Soneto de la Noche” is an incredibly powerful and touching meditation on love, desire, parting, and death.  It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a piece of music with such emotional force and content, and ably sung.  The lyrics are in Spanish, but the program provided a haunting translation by Nicholas Lauridsen.

The second half of the program began with Robert Kyr’s “Canticle of the Brother Sun” by St. Francis of Assisi. Sung in Latin with a translation provided by Kyr, this was one of the longer pieces but did not seem so. St. Francis was also represented by the famous “Prayer of St. Francis” adapted to music by Sanford Dole.   I also personally enjoyed Kurt Erickson’s “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” from the liturgy of St. James, a very moving setting for this well-known standard.

There will be two more performances of this program: Saturday, 19 March at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal church in San Francisco, and on Sunday, 20 March in Palo Alto at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.  Tickets are available at the door, and please do consider making a generous donation to this excellent member of the Bay Area cultural scene.


Bay Choral Guild’s Pacific Passions — 2 Comments

  1. Sheldon,
    Thanks, as usual, for reporting on our performances. Our best over all performance was in the SF venue as many of the composers were there so we wanted their approval. However, Seattle composer Eric Banks liked some of our interpretations today, Sunday, at the Palo Alto venue.
    The Lauridsen piece apparently brought some audience members to tears. No wonder he was given a Presidential award in 2007 for his work as an American composer.
    I feel that American composers aren’t featured enough in media pieces. I especially liked singing the Frank Ticheli Earth Song, which is also very moving. And I learned that he wrote it in response to the Iraq war. It is very fitting now with the new offensive in Libya.
    We will have a CD of our repertoire which many folks are already asking for in about 6 weeks. Sanford keeps taking us to higher and higher levels.

  2. Part of Lux Aeterna was sung at a friend’s feaurnl. I was struck by the beauty of the piece so very ethereal. A minister, my friend selected every piece of music for her feaurnl. Bagpipes played Amazing Grace as her twin boys followed her casket up the aisle a very tearful moment. But Dana knew what she was doing when she planned her feaurnl; just as everyone was SOBBING, from up above came the joyful music a New Orleans brass band playing Just a Closer Walk with Thee .

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