HALLELUJAH FOR THE CHORUS: There are points in the concert season when the beauty and majesty of tautly-gathered voices goes public, in batches. Local fans of choral and “serious” acappella vocal music—and it’s a large and growing crowd—happily bathe in the plenty. It happened just before Christmas, when we benefitted from the inspirations of the powerful UCSB Chamber Choir’s Scandinavian concert and the ever-compelling early meets early-channeling new music Quire of Voyces in St. Anthony’s Seminary Chapel within a week, framing a captivating local appearance the landmark renaissance male ensemble, Tallis Scholars, at Our Lady of Sorrows.
Once again this weekend, as if by cosmic or calendaric design, a threefer set of recommended choral/vocal concerts descends on us, this time highlighted by a return visit from the grand and internationalized sensation Anonymous 4, at the Lobero on Monday. Over the weekend, Santa Barbara groups of note take up the charge: the Santa Barbara Choral Society continues its still-new “Masterworks at San Roque” series of concerts (representing the Roque, my home turf). Joined by the Westmont College Choir (which, incidentally, joined the pack of impressive Christmas period choral festivities in December, at First Presbyterian Church), performing a program featuring Maurice Durufle’s Requiem, and a west coast premiere of Rollo Dilworth’s The Rain Sequence.
The Nathan Kreitzer-directed Quire of Voyces puts on its pre-spring show, the “Cathedral Classics Concert,” focuses on settings of the Psalms, from such composers as Tallis and Palestrina. Michael Eglin, a composer-in-residence with the group, will premiere another in what has been a series of impressive new choral scores.
Anonymous 4 has, thankfully, made Santa Barbara a part of its performance map for many years, and memorable past appearances have included the Lobero, at the Casa Maria retreat in Montecito and even at the Live Oak Festival in 2009, in a special Americana-flavored project with Darol Anger. Monday’s performance, titled “Anthology 25,” is a special event in the American group’s continuing saga. Here, they sweep across the long and rich discography built up in their now quarter-century association with the harmonia mundi label. Expect some historical/stylistic whiplash of the sweetest kind, as they perform Hildegard von Bingen, plenty of the Renaissance music that is their heart and soul, a new piece by David Lang, a pinch of Jon Tavener and treats from their American music-celebratory Gloryland. It promises to be a not-to-miss evening, for vocal music buffs and beyond.
FRINGE PRODUCT: In the esoteric but passionate netherworld of the jazz scene, and tendril neighborhoods thereto attached, the great trumpeter Nicholas Payton has been stirring up trouble and dialogue in the blogosphere. Unhindered by false modesty, he claims hegemony in the jazz trumpeter sweepstakes and rails against various perceived and actual foes, not to mention taking to task the very term “jazz,” as an extension of the derogatory early term “jass” (as in “jive ass” music).