Members of the Bakersfield Master Chorale are heading to Chicago to sing in the 12th annual Windy City Choral Festival. But before they go, they would love to perform their musical program for the folks here at home.
As a preview and combined rehearsal and performance, the Master Chorale will perform the entire program they will sing at the festival Saturday night at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Saturday’s performance will also feature a performance by singers participating in the choir’s young artists program.
It’s a big deal when a choir is invited to participate in a festival, and while festivals have become a big business — participation fees, tour packages, souvenirs and other expensive items for the thousands of people who participate every year — musically speaking, these are serious events featuring the most respected conductors, composers and clinicians in the music world in the most prestigious performing venues.
Master Chorale president Jerry Buzzell said the choir will be in Chicago from March 6 to 10, rehearsing each day to prepare for the big performance on March 10 at Orchestra Hall at Chicago’s famous Symphony Center. Buzzell noted that this year’s guest artist is composer and conductor Z. Randall Stroope, famous for such works as “Amor De Mi Alma” (“Love of My Soul”), “Lamentaciones de Jermias” (“Lamentations of Jeremiah”) and “Conversion of Saul.”
“This isn’t something that we just pay to attend,” Buzzell said. “We had to audition for the festival.”
The Master Chorale singers will join with participating choirs from around the country to form one mass choir, performing mostly newer choral works, including three by Stroope. That program, which the choir previews this Saturday, includes “Unclouded Day,” arranged by Shawn Kirchner; “O Clap Your Hands” by Ralph Vaughan Williams; “Braunner Bursche fürt zum Tanze” (“A Tanned Young Lad Leads to the Dance”); “Trinity Te Deum” by Eriks Esenvalds; and “Dies Irae” (“Day of Wrath”), “Dance for Love” and “O Notte” (“O Night”) all by Stroope.
Buzzell said the ensemble is honored to be accepted into the festival. But there is something more: The choir will also have its own stand-alone performance during the festival performance — one of only four of all the participating choirs chosen to do so.
“To be selected out of all those choirs for a stand-alone performance — that’s the highest honor,” Buzzell said.
“It more than just the grunt work of rehearsing and memorizing,” Buzzell said. “It’s the performance in that venue, with the orchestra.”
“It’s like Carnegie Hall.”
The singers will also perform their stand-alone pieces on Saturday, including “The Lord Bless You and Keep You” by Peter Lutkin; “My spirit sang all day” by Gerald Finzi; “Il bianco e dolce cigno” (“The White and Lovely Swan”) by Jacob Arcadelt and “My God is a Rock” by Ken Berg.
Rounding out Saturday’s concert is a performance of the famous quartet from Giuseppe Verdi’s “Rigoletto” by the Master Chorale young artists.