VERDI REQUIEM – At Davies Symphony Hall, August 14th and 15th

Program includes World Premiere of Donald McCullough’s
Contraries: The Human Condition

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By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

Verdi’s Requiem contains all the trademarks of his operas. The vocal line is dramatic, and rich with emotional opportunity. It’s realm is the Symphony Hall, not the Cathedral. The music was never intended to draw its audience toward prayer and contemplation. Verdi’s Requiem is a dramatic showcase crammed with vocal fireworks. It’s all about the singer. And who’s singing tonight.

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The San Francisco Choral Society

This season the San Francisco Choral Society celebrates its 20th Anniversary at Davies Symphony Hall on Friday and Saturday, August 14th and 15th. Artistic Director Robert Geary will lead the 200 voice Choral Society and the California Chamber Symphony in the Verdi Requiem. Principal soloists are soprano Karen Anderson, mezzo-soprano Wendy Hillhouse, tenor Ben Bongers and bass-baritone Kittinant Chinsamran. Also on the program is Donald McCullough’s Contraries: The Human Condition, which was commissioned by the SF Choral Society. There will be a short interview with Mr. McCullough before each concert .

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BEN BONGERS, Tenor and KITTINANT CHINSAMRAN, Bass-baritone

1868 saw Verdi spearhead a collaborative effort in which twelve of Italy’s leading composers were to compose a Requiem Mass for public performance as a tribute to Gioacchino Rossini. The score was to be kept in Bologna at the Liceo Musicale for use only at future anniversary celebrations. One of the stipulations of this project was no one would be financially compensated for services. The Mass was completed and then doomed to silence.

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KAREN ANDERSON, Soprano

Verdi’s contribution to the mass lay dormant until the death of Alessandro Manzoni in 1873. The poet was revered as a national literary hero. His death rekindled Verdi’s passion toward the Requiem. Adding to an already completed “Libera Me” from the Rossini Mass, Verdi completed the Messa da Requiem to commemorate the first anniversary of Manzoni’s death. The first performance took place in Milan in 1874.

Donald McCullough is the Music Director of the Master Chorale of Washington. He has led the Chorale on two international tours, the latest at the invitation of German and Polish consular officials who invited MCW to be a featured guest chorus during Europe’s commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.

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DONALD McCULLOUGH

With over 20 published choral works to his credit, McCullough has gained wide recognition as a composer. Most recently the Berkshire Choral Festival commissioned a setting of Psalm 150 for chorus and orchestra while inviting him to return to the BCF as a guest conductor to present several of his own choral works, including the world premiere of Psalm 150.

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WENDY HILLHOUSE, Mezzo-soprano

McCullough chose text by 19th century English poet William Blake for Contraries: The Human Condition. The work is in six movements. McCullough’s source of inspiration is English poet William Blake Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience. The work explores Blake’s spiritual and philosophical beliefs melding innocence and experience. “Without contraries,” says Blake, “there is no progression.”

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WILLIAM BLAKE and ROBERT GEARY

Click here for more information: SAN FRANCISCO CHORAL SOCIETY

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Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Seán Martinfield, who also serves as Fine Arts Critic, is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com. If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: sean.martinfield@comcast.net.

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