BRUNSWICK – The Oratorio Chorale, under the direction of Peter Frewen, will conclude its 30th season in a joyous mood, with a concert of works by Bach, Carter, Rachmaninoff and Brahms.

It will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 8, in First Parish Church, Maine Street, Brunswick; and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 9, in Sacred Heart Church, 326 Main St., Yarmouth.

The Bach motet “Singet dem Herrn,” composed in 1626 or 1627, is a dazzling example of eight-part harmony. The singers are divided into a double choir and accompanied by nine members of the Maine Chamber Ensemble. The voices interact in intricate alternating statements, including a remarkable double fugue.

Elliott Carter’s “Defense of Corinth,” based on a text by 16th-century French humorist Francois Rabelais, is a satire on the arts of war. It spotlights the men’s chorus, with spoken passages by Robert Farnsworth and piano four-hand accompaniment.

The intense, deep sound of Rachmaninoff’s a cappella motet “O Mother of God Vigilantly Praying” has the unique resonance of Russian sacred music.

Talented soloists from the chorale take center stage to conclude the program with Brahms’ love songs in the “Neues Liebeslieder.” They are accompanied by piano four-hands.

Frewen said two things make this program possible. “We now have a remarkable level of skill and depth in the male voices, making it possible to fulfill a long-term wish of mine to perform Elliott Carter’s challenging ‘Defense of Corinth.”

“We also have the wonderful resource of two exceptional piano accompanists, Bridget Convey and Elizabeth Manduca, whose talents are essential for the four-hand parts of the Brahms ‘Neues Liebeslieder’ and the Carter work.”

Convey has a special interest in new music and collaboration with living composers. She began performing contemporary repertoire under the guidance of percussionist Raymond DesRoches.

In California, Convey worked with many composers. She also founded, directed and was pianist for “ensemble GREEN,” an 11-piece new music ensemble.

Manduca is the piano editor for Manduca Music Publications, which produces chamber music and educational materials of more than 100 writers worldwide.

She premieres the new piano works at various trade shows. She has written numerous piano ensemble works and a text, “Successful Studio Teaching and Necessary Theory and Harmonization Skills.” She is the director of Manduca Music Studios where she teaches piano, theory and composition.

Farnsworth’s poetry has been published in magazines in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and in two collections from Wesleyan University Press, “Three or Four Hills” and “A Cloud and Honest Water.”

Winner of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in poetry, he teaches writing and literature at Bates College, and edits poetry for a national quarterly, The American Scholar.

The chorale is an auditioned chorus of 55 singers from 16 Maine communities. Frewen has led the group since 1986. For more information, people can call 725-1420 or visit www.oratoriochorale.org.

Tickets for the concert are $15 in advance or $17.50 at the door. Group discounts are available and students are half-price. Children under 12 are admitted free. Tickets are available at Mason Street Mercantile, Bath; MacBeans Music, Brunswick; Clayton’s, Yarmouth; Starbird Music, Portland; Maine Coast Books, Damariscotta; Treat’s, Newcastle; and Books Etc., Falmouth.


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