“Gems of the Baroque,” will conclude this season’s concert series of The Oratorio Society of Virginia, affiliated with the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music. The performance will be on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in Old Cabell Hall.
The afternoon will also include a lecture by U.Va. music performance librarian Winston K. Barham at 2:30 p.m. to set the stage with some historical context.
The concert will include music written by George Frideric Handel for English royal coronations and a Johann Sebastian Bach masterpiece based upon the hymn of a 16th-century village pastor. A 90-voice choir will perform these works with soloists and a 30-piece orchestra.
Handel’s “Coronation Anthems” were commissioned in 1727 for the crowning of King George II and Queen Caroline, and the anthem “Zadok the Priest,” in particular, has been performed since then at every English coronation.
During a six-month period beginning in 1597, German pastor Philipp Nicolai saw 1,300 of his parishioners die from the plague, and was moved to compose two hymns as meditations to comfort his flock. One of these hymns became the inspiration for the first piece in the Oratorio Society’s program, Bach’s “Cantata 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Sleepers Awake),” known for its harmonies as well as two soaring duets.
In addition to these choral selections, the orchestra will perform Bach’s “Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major,” which includes the popular “Air” later re-worked as the “Air on the G String.”
The featured soloists are soprano Martha B. Eason, mezzo-soprano Sarah Elizabeth Davis, tenor John Tiranno and baritone David Newman.
Eason graduated from U.Va. in 2011 with a degree in music and arts administration. She has been a featured soloist with the Charlottesville and University Symphony Orchestra, sang with Ash Lawn Opera and performed with U.Va.’s Opera Viva.
Davis holds a bachelor’s degree in music from James Madison University and a master’s degree in music from the University of Michigan. She has performed music for mezzo and piano, including the New York premiere of Jeremy Beck’s one-act contemporary opera “Review.” She was with the Caramoor Bel Canto Opera Young Artists program, and has performed with Opera Lafayette and Loudon Lyric Opera.
Tiranno’s 2013 schedule includes debuts with the Oratorio Society of New York, New York City Opera, Opera Roanoke and Amor Artis. Upcoming engagements include a world premiere opera by composer Gisle Kverndokk at the New York Opera Society, Mozart’s “Requiem” at Sacred Music in a Sacred Space and Bach’s “St. John Passion” at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
Newman is in particular demand as a Baroque specialist, and has appeared regularly as a guest artist with the Four Nations Ensemble, including performances in Lincoln Center and Merkin Hall. He has also performed with the Spoleto Festival, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Opera Guild, Opera Birmingham, Philadelphia Orchestra and the Russian National Orchestra. Newman teaches voice at James Madison University.
The Oratorio Society of Virginia is dedicated to enriching and educating the community through distinctive choral performances. To reserve tickets for this concert, visit www.oratoriosociety.org or call 434-295-4385.