On April 6, as spring settles over Central Virginia, the Oratorio Society of Virginia will present choral masterworks reflecting that seasonal theme of renewal and triumph over death and destruction.
The concert, to be held at First Presbyterian Church on Park Street in Charlottesville, will feature organist Christopher “Kit” Jacobson on the Casavant organ. Cellist Adam Carter and soloists, mezzo-soprano Leslie Mutchler and baritone Sumner Thompson, will join the Oratorio Society’s 90 singers. Music Director Michael Slon will conduct the program of 20th-century choral masterworks.
Tickets for the performance, which begins at 8 p.m., are available online at www.oratoriosociety.org, by calling 434-295-4385, or at New Dominion Bookshop.
In the aftermath of World War II, in 1947, French composer and organ virtuoso Maurice Duruflé wrote his famous “Requiem” in his father’s memory. Transcending lament and loss, this masterpiece reflected the world’s longing with themes of hope, peace and rest and bridged the span of time by incorporating Gregorian chant with modern orchestration.
Shortly before the Second World War ended, Benjamin Britten composed his joyful “Festival Te Deum” in 1944 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Mark’s Church in Swindon, England, an Anglo-Catholic church with a strong choral tradition. Some have seen in it a theme of healing as the war came to a close.
The concert also will include “A New Song.” written in 1997 by Scottish composer James MacMillan; “Like as the Hart.” composed by Herbert Howell while London was under bombardment in World War II; “Jerusalem.” written by C. Hubert H. Parry in 1916 (and adopted by suffragettes as a hymn in 1917); and Marcel Dupré’s Prelude and Fugue in G Minor, op. 7 no. 3.
Jacobson’s performance will continue a link to Duruflé. Jacobson is a Charlottesville native who began his organ study locally with Yvaine Duisit while he was a student at Woodberry Forest School. As a student herself, Duisit studied organ at the Paris Conservatoire with Duruflé.
Jacobson, the former assistant organist at the Washington National Cathedral, is currently associate organist at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, S.C. He holds a Master of Music degree in organ performance and a Sacred Music Diploma from the Eastman School of Music, a Bachelor of Music with Distinction from St. Olaf College, and an associate diploma from the American Guild of Organists. He has won several organ competitions and has performed internationally.
Carter holds the Genevieve B. Horween & Marion H. Chase Chair as principal cellist with the Charlottesville & University Symphony Orchestra. In addition to his duties teaching cello and chamber music on the faculty of the McIntire Department of Music in the University of Virginia’s College of Arts & Sciences, Carter is a founding member of the Tarab Cello Ensemble, which tours the country playing new works for cello octet. The ensemble has recorded on the Bridge Records and Albany Records labels and won prestigious grant awards. Carter was a top prize-winner in the 1998 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees with distinction from the Eastman School of Music and his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Mutchler’s mezzo-soprano voice has been lauded as “rich and beautifully centered” from Opera News to The Washington Post. A former member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program and a native of the Washington area, she performed as soloist in April 2012 with the University Singers’ performance of Mendelssohn’s “Elijah” and in 2009 was soloist with the Oratorio Society in Verdi’s “Messa da Requiem.” She has appeared often with the Washington National Opera, most recently as Lola in a critically acclaimed performance of “Cavalleria Rusticana.” She was a featured soloist with the Choral Arts Society of Washington in the North American concert premiere of Olli Kortekangas’ “Seven Songs for Planet Earth” and has earned kudos for performances with opera companies in Philadelphia and Indianapolis as well as numerous concert performances, including the rarely heard John Adama oratorio “El Nino.”
Baritone Thompson has appeared as a soloist with many leading ensembles, including the Britten-Pears Orchestra, the National Symphony, Boston Early Music Festival, Apollo’s Fire, Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Les Boreades de Montreal, Mercury Baroque, Les Voix Baroques, The Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque and Tafelmusik. He received a Grammy nomination for his recording with the Boston Early Music Festival of Lully’s “Psyché” on the CPO label and he can be heard with Les Voix Baroques on “Canticum Canticorum,” “Carissimi Oratorios” and “Humori,” all on the ATMA label.
Auditions & Remaining Season Concert
Singers interested in joining the Oratorio Society are encouraged to audition April 8. Visit www.oratoriosociety.org for information and to sign up for an audition time or contact 434-295-4385 if an alternate date is needed.
This Oratorio Society season will conclude June 2 at 3:30 p.m. with a performance of “Gems of the Baroque Era: Bach and Handel” at Old Cabell Hall. Soloists and orchestra will join with the chorus to present a collection of smaller jewels in the Baroque repertoire, including Bach’s Orchestral Suite #3 in D Major and the beloved Cantata 140 (known as “Sleepers Awake”). Handel’s “Coronation Anthems,” commissioned for the coronation of King George II and Queen Caroline, have been played at English royal coronations ever since. Audiences will especially enjoy the stunning choral effects of the anthem “Zadok the Priest.”
The Oratorio Society is affiliated with the McIntire Department of Music and is supported in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.