LEWISTON – Replete with intense dissonance and intoxicating rhythms, L/A Children’s Chorus is closing its 11th season with a work of exceptional difficulty: “A Ceremony of Carols” by Benjamin Britten. The concert is scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Friday, June 4 in the concert hall of the Olin Arts Center at Bates College.

According to chorus director and founder, Brian Franck, the Britten piece, which will be the program’s focal point, “is considered one of the most difficult musical works ever composed for treble choirs.” The work, which will be presented in its entirety by the 22-member chorus, begins and ends with a Gregorian chant.

The main part of the piece, Franck explained, includes eight consecutive carols that tell the story of the birth of Christ. The piece lasts for 23 minutes and is sung in middle English, the language featured in “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Also included in the classical portion of the program, according to Franck, are a rousing Renaissance song titled Gloria ad Modum Tubae (Gloria in the Manner of Brass) by Netherlands composer Guillaume DuFay and an equally joyous piece, Laudamus Te, by Italian-Baroque composer Antonio Vivaldi. Late-Baroque composer John Rutter’s Benediction work “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” will offer some short solo opportunities for the singers.

Robert Schumann’s “Song of May” (Ländliches Lied) will be sung in German and followed immediately by Hector Berlioz’s “Villanelle” from his cycle “Les Nuits D’Ete” and presented in French. Edward Elgar’s “As Torrents In Summer” from the composer’s cantata “King Olaf,” will immediately precede the Britten work.

Interspersed among the choral selections throughout the program will be several performances by the handbell ensemble, featuring arrangements of both piano and organ pieces for three octaves of bells.

The second half of the concert takes a decidedly light-hearted turn with show tunes and crowd-pleasers.

Without accompaniment the children will launch into a brisk-paced arrangement of the American folk song “Pick a Bale of Cotton,” followed by a George Gershwin medley of familiar tunes, including: “Fascinating Rhythm,” “Someone to Watch Over Me,” “The Man I Love “and “I’ve Got a Crush on You.”

The famous singing trio from the 1940s, the Andrews sisters, made certain songs household as well as national staples on recordings and in performance. One of those, “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” has become an all-time favorite. The chorus will offer a whistle-blowing three-part arrangement of this American classic. Continuing in the same vein with theme songs related to trains, the young choristers will with break into a power-charged arrangement by Mark Hayes of “This Train is Bound for Glory,” which will also feature the local singing talents of Kathleen Hammond.

The great opera diva Jessye Norman has ended her concerts on numerous occasions with a show stopping rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”

With this great spiritual, the children will bring their 11th season to an uplifting conclusion.

Joining the children as accompanist will be harpist, Molly Hahn of Westport as well as pianist Bridget Convey of Hallowell.

Admission to the concert will be $10 at the door on the evening of the performance. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $8 each at both Lewiston and Auburn Hannaford supermarkets.

All children and students aged 18 and under will be admitted free of charge.


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