The Bagaduce Chorale was formed in the spring of 1974, for the joy of those who love to sing good music together. If in the process of taking pleasure ourselves, we bring some joy to others, then truly, "our cup runneth over"!
The Bagaduce Chorale is made up of 90-plus auditioned singers from the Blue Hill Peninsula and surrounding communities, including Deer Isle/Stonington, Castine, Orland, Surry, Ellsworth, Lamoine, and Bar Harbor. The Bagaduce Chorale performs twice a year, in early December and in late April/early May, accompanied by piano, organ or a small instrumental ensemble.
This spring, Bagaduce Chorale and director Bronwyn Kortge say ‘thank you for forty glorious years!’ to founder, director emerita and accompanist Mary Cheyney Gould. To this end, Bronwyn has assembled a program featuring lush vocals, vibrant strings and piano.
“The concert has two contrasting parts, one dark, contemplative and yearning. The other, grows to an expansive, uplifting, exuberant conclusion, filled with themes of rebirth and gratitude.
The poem Sleep sets the stage for the ‘dark night’ portion. Charles Anthony Silvestri wrote the poem about his son who could not fall asleep one night. American composer Eric Whitacre had already written the music, so Silvestri had to write the words to fit the song.
“Often I think of the music as being very evocative of the text. Here, perhaps it is the text that is so expressive of the music! In any event, the combination is magical and deeply moving.”
Two more favorites being presented are David Dickau’s setting of Stars I Shall Find, and Morten Lauridsen’s setting of James Agee’s Sure on this Shining Night. “These poems give me a sense of searching, longing for meaning, and hope for mankind found in earth’s natural glories. They also feature gorgeous piano accompaniments.”
The idea of a light in the darkness is common to the works of Lauridsen and Dickau. Stars become beacons of hope and inspiration. This theme culminates in Robert Frost's Choose Something Like a Star set to music by Randall Thompson. "Our voices reverently worship the light-giving wonder of the star and at the same time rail against its bare and insufficient illumination", says Kortge. "Ultimately the star calls us to rise above our earthier nature, comforting and guiding us with its constant presence." This piece not only matches the themes of other works, it was added to the program by special request from Mary.
Scintillating piano accompaniments are a theme throughout this program, including Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s 2010 offering, Dark Night of the Soul.
As text for this 14 minute-piece, Gjeilo uses three stanzas from St. John of the Cross’ (1542-1592) magical poem “Dark Night of the Soul.”
Composer Ola Gjeilo explained that his goal “was to make the choir and piano more equal. Usually the piano is relegated to a very generic accompanying role in choral music. So there is a lot of give and take between the choir and piano here; often the piano is accompanying the choir, but sometimes the choir is accompanying the piano.”
“It is turbulent with spiritual crisis and growth, and ripe with mystical love, and I am fascinated by this gorgeous piece,” said director Bronwyn Kortge. “I think we will all be as excited about Ola Gjeilo as we became about American composer Karl Jenkins last season.”
And speaking of Karl Jenkins, the Chorale’s spring concert will culminate in his recent composition, Te Deum.
The Te Deum text is an ancient Christian hymn of thanksgiving, the title taken from it’s opening lyrics “Thee, O God, we praise.”
“Scored for chorus, keyboard, strings, trumpets and percussion, Jenkins’ Te Deum is effusive and exciting, and we are exploring alternate venues for performance,” concluded Kortge.
“This program so perfectly expresses my emotions around Mary’s approaching retirement, searching and hopeful but overwhelmingly grateful for Mary’s presence and generosity. This music expresses my gratitude and joy and my certainty that the world of music ... and indeed the whole World holds good things for those of us that sing.”