The Bakersfield Master Chorale will celebrate Veterans Day with a free concert honoring service men and women throughout American history Friday evening.
The concert will kick off the Master Chorale's 86th season, which includes four additional concerts: the annual Christmas concert; a choral festival concert in February; the annual Hymn Festival in April; and a performance of the Gustav Mahler's "Resurrection" Symphony with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra in May.
Musical director and conductor Robert Provencio said Friday's concert will include not only patriotic music, but works that were popular during periods of military conflict in our nation's history, from the American Revolution through today's ongoing conflict.
"This was music that was in the ears of our fighting men and women," Provencio said.
The chorale is also preparing for their annual Christmas concert, scheduled for Dec. 8.
The Christmas concert is the reason for the choir's existence, when it was first formed as the "Messiah" Chorale at First Baptist Church, to sing George Frederick Handel's oratorio, "Messiah." Provencio said that tradition continues.
"We will perform selections from throughout," Provencio said. "So there will be selections from the Christmas section, some from the Resurrection section, and some from the Ascension section."
In February, the choir will perform music they will be taking on tour the following month to Chicago and the annual Windy City Choral Festival, at which the choir will get to work with internationally acclaimed conductor and composer Z. Randall Stroope. Provencio said he is hopeful the Master Chorale will be invited for a standalone performance at the festival.
"We just sent our audition two days ago," Provencio said. "We have auditioned for (the festival organizers) before and were accepted to perform at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and at Lincoln Center, so we hope to have a solo performance here."
April's annual Hymn Festival will include choral, organ and solo sacred music from across genres, including traditional hymns, spirituals and more.
The season will end with the performance many Bakersfield choristers are talking about — a joint performance with the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, Cal State Bakersfield and Bakersfield College singers of Gustav Mahler's Symphony No. 2, known as the "Resurrection" symphony, which includes vocal soloists and large choir in the final movement.
"I couldn't be more thrilled," Provencio said. "I've tried to do collaborations like this for years."
Friday's concert represents what Provencio called a "new paradigm" for the choral organization.
"We're seeking sponsorships and relationships with patrons instead of fundraising in the usual ways," Provencio said.
Provencio said this Friday's concert is being underwritten by a bequest from the estate of long-serving chorister Polly Hamm. Provencio said this kind of support allows the chorale to provide some free concerts in service to the community.
"What better constituency to serve than the men and women who have served their country so nobly and so well?" Provencio said.