This concert season marks the 40th anniversary of The Frederick Chorale. All of us in The Chorale, including some who are founding members, are very proud of this musical milestone. It is a momentous occasion, giving us pause to remember and revisit some of the choral gems that we found joy in singing and that built The Chorale’s reputation for excellence.
Our first concert of the season on October 29, Reformation Sunday, is a reprise of last year’s acclaimed A Mighty Fortress: 500 Years of Reformation. It is an away performance in the stunning Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church in Catonsville, Maryland, on the campus of Charlestown Retirement Community. The majestic music of J. S. Bach and Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy will be featured, interwoven with Protestant music rooted in the early American experience. William D. Powell III will accompany on organ and our own Sam Marshall on piano. Fr. Leo Larrivee, pastor, will preside. Clad in resplendent Italian marbles, mosaics, and stained glass, the chapel is one of the most sought-out performance venues in the Baltimore-Washington region.
Christmas with The Frederick Chorale, our concert on December 3 & 4, will delve deeper into the Chorale’s 40-year history. The ever-popular Gloria, by Antonio Vivaldi, last performed by The Chorale in 2002, is the anchor of the concert. This season we bring a fresh approach to that iconic Italian Baroque masterwork. We embed three Christmas songs, sung in English, into Vivaldi’s compositional structure, offering reflective commentary on the message of the traditional Latin text. In this program we also pay homage to the Chorale’s Madrigal Feaste era, bringing back some playful tunes from yesteryear—three favorite drinking songs and a tongue-in-cheek parody on the busy-ness of the holiday season, “Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!,”composed by two of our own members.
The theme of Amazing Grace: Music of Saints and Sinners, our spring concert on March 18 & 19, is as ancient as the biblical origin of humankind. We will sing of well-known characters and scenes that shed light on humanity’s moral frailty and teach the power of divine grace. Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jesus, John the Baptist, and even Guys and Dolls’ Nicely-Nicely Johnson are in the musical mix. The central composition on the program is Mortals and Angels: A Bluegrass Te Deum, a new work by Minnesota composer, Carol Barnett. The Te Deum is a Christian hymn of praise dating back to the 4th century. Barnett’s version expands the definition and the musical material, giving it a uniquely American spin by including Protestant hymns rooted in Appalachia. The High and Wides, a bluegrass band from Maryland’s Eastern Shore, will provide accompaniment. The Frederick Children’s Chorus, Judith DuBose, founder and conductor, will join The Chorale in this Frederick debut.
Our milestone season goes out in high style with two premier events in June—The Frederick Chorale 40th Anniversary Gala on June 1 and a performance of Mozart’s Requiem with the National Music Festival Symphony on June 15. How do we top that? The answer is that we’ll try as we begin our next 40 years!
Douglas D. Cox