This concert continues an ongoing tradition of collaboration with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Bel Canto Music Director Richard Hynson will once again conduct the performances. Special guest soloists are Bel Canto’s 2012 Regional Artists Competition winner, Laura Strickling (soprano), and Gerard Sundberg (baritone). Jubilate Chorale of Waukesha will also be joining Bel Canto Chorus for Ein deutsches Requiem. Saturday’s concert will be at Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc, WI. Sunday’s concert will be at Christ King Parish, 2604 North Swan Boulevard, Wauwatosa, WI. Tickets $20-$28 are available at the box office 414-481-8801 or online at http://www.belcanto.org. Senior, student, and group discounts are available.
The concert opens with Richard Hynson’s unaccompanied Three Funeral Motets. Composed between 1999 and 2001, Hynson wrote two of these pieces to memorialize the death of Milwaukee business leader Joseph Tierney, Jr. The third piece is Hynson’s response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. “Like so many musicians, I turned to composing as an outlet for my horror and grief over the brutal, senseless murder of so many innocents,” said Hynson. “I wrote In the Midst of Life in one day after the attacks as a reminder that light, order, and beauty ultimately triumph over the chaotic darkness of evil.”
The idea of composing a requiem in German based on texts from the Lutheran Bible and the Apocrypha rather than the traditional Roman Catholic mass for the dead began to take shape in Brahms' mind in 1857, a year after the death of his friend and mentor, Robert Schumann. It wasn't until 1865, following the death of Brahms' mother, that he took up composition of the music in earnest. Three years later the work was finished, having grown from a choral piece into a cantata, and then into a seven-movement Requiem for chorus, soloists and orchestra.
The Spirit of Brahms, a free pre-concert exhibition, will be held in Oconomowoc only. This is a multi-disciplinary event featuring the Oconomowoc High School art and music departments, starting at 5:00 PM at the Oconomowoc Arts Center. Indoor and outdoor activities will be open to the public, and food will be available for purchase.
This concert is presented in part with support from the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF); the Bradley Foundation; the Oconomowoc Area Foundation; the Herzfeld Foundation; the Milwaukee County Arts Board; and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Richard Hynson
This season marks Richard Hynson’s 25th anniversary season as Music Director of Bel Canto Chorus. Since 2006, Hynson has also served as Music Director of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. In addition to his work as a conductor and educator, Hynson is a composer. He has written a substantial body of published choral, vocal, and ensemble works, many of which he has recorded with Bel Canto Chorus singers. The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants have frequently performed Hynson’s In the Midst of Life, composed in response to the events of September 11.
About Bel Canto Chorus
Formed in 1931, Bel Canto Chorus is Southeastern Wisconsin’s longest continuously performing arts organization. It is made up of mostly volunteer singers from southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Under the direction of Richard Hynson, the chorus opened its 81st season on Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2011 with “United We Stand” in Cathedral Square park. This free concert marking the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks featured Mozart’s Requiem and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. The concert aired statewide on Wisconsin Public Television. “The chorus sang with force and assurance, easily separating the complex vocal lines… and following Hynson's judicious phrasing in when to hold back and when to let go.” (David Lewellen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).
About the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra
The MSO reaches out to diverse audiences through concert performances and nationally recognized education and outreach programs. All programs are guided by the MSO Family Shared Vision, which states that the MSO exists for three purposes: to comfort, educate, entertain, and exhilarate the human soul through events of cultural significance, relevance, and artistic challenge; to embrace, preserve and foster our musical heritage; and to enhance the vibrancy of our community.
About Laura Strickling
Laura Strickling, soprano, has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, the Galapagos Art Space, Trinity Church on Wall Street, the Philadelphia Lieder Society, Dankhaus Chicago, the American University of Afghanistan, and the Afghanistan National Institute of Music. Concert engagements include Mozart by Candlelight with Annapolis Opera, Requiem Mozart, Lord Nelson Mass Haydn, Mass in C Beethoven, and her Kennedy Center debut in Messiah Handel. An alumna of the Berkshire Opera Company Resident Artist Program, Strickling’s operatic roles include Cleopatra Giulio Cesare, Mirena Mirena e Floro, Mimi La Boheme, Dinorah Dinorah, Elvira L’Italiana in Algeri, Josephine H.M.S. Pinafore, Mabel The Pirates of Penzance, Belinda Dido and Aeneas, Gretel Hansel and Gretel, Micaëla Carmen, and Pamina Die Zauberflöte. A Chicago native, Strickling studied at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University (Master of Music in Voice), and the Moody Bible Institute (Bachelor of Music in Sacred Music).
About Gerard Sundberg
Gerard Sundberg, baritone, has captivated audiences with his performances of Handel’s Messiah with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. Recent performances include the St. John Passion conducted by John Nelson in Paris at the Notre Dame Cathedral. He has appeared as soloist with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, and with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Robert Shaw. Sundberg frequently appears as soloist with the West Suburban Choral Union, Chicago. He also has sung extensively with the Oregon Bach Festival under the artistic leadership of Helmuth Rilling. Previous performances with Bel Canto include Handel Messiah, Finzi Requiem da Camera, and Mozart Requiem. Sundberg is a graduate of Bethel College (St. Paul, MN), and holds both Master of Fine Arts and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Minnesota where he studied voice with Clifton Ware and Roy Schuessler. He is presently Professor of Voice at Wheaton Conservatory of Music (Wheaton, IL).