Ancora presents "Sacred Night"
Seattle women’s choir Ancora, directed by Interim Artistic Director Freddie Coleman, accompanied by Justin Hansen, and joined by guest artists Resonance Handbell Quartet, unveils “Sacred Night.” This seasonal winter program features a Gregorian-inspired “Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittis” by Frank La Rocca, the Bach-inspired “Mass No. 6” by Romanian-born Hungarian György Orbán, and the mystical “Northern Lights” written for treble voices, handbells, and tuned glasses by Latvian Ēriks Ešenvalds.
Inspired by the lyrics of “What a Wonderful World” ― “I see skies of blue and clouds of white / Bright blessed day and dark sacred night” ― Seattle-based women’s choir Ancora will unveil their winter concert, “Sacred Night.”
Billed as a seasonal winter program, the concert features “Magnificat,” “Nunc dimittis” and “Mediation” by Frank La Rocca, “Mass No. 6” by György Orbán, “Cedit, Hyems!” by Abbie Betinis, “The Winter’s Night” by Nicholas Myers, and “Northern Lights” and “Only in Sleep” by Ēriks Ešenvalds.
“Sacred Night” will be presented on Saturday, January 27, 2018, at 7:30 p.m. at the Green Lake Church of Seventh-Day Adventists (6350 East Green Lake Way N,in Seattle) and on Sunday, January 28, 2018, at 4:30 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Cross Episcopal (11526 162nd Ave NE, in Redmond.)
The concert will be conducted by Interim Artistic Director Freddie Coleman, accompanied by Justin Hansen, and joined by guest artists Resonance Handbell Quartet.
“Sacred Night” is a reflective journey, a musical nocturne,” states director Freddie Coleman. “I combined music that bridges our nocturnal meditations with the impatience that accompanies the return of light and spring. I confess that this is my own personal experience of winter nights―an annual journey inward when I find that I am growing in a realm that is both psychological and spiritual.”
According to Fanfare magazine, California-based composer Frank La Rocca “writes music unmistakably inspired by liturgical chant and the masters of the Renaissance and Baroque, but filtered through a musical sensibility informed by the works of 20th-century modernists: beauty ever ancient, ever new.” American Record Guide stated that Frank La Rocca is an “exciting and worthwhile new choral music discovery.”
La Rocca’s two works, “Magnificat” and “Nunc dimittis” are gospel prayers found in the liturgical night services of many western denominations. They are usually paired in the Anglican church and said or sung during the Anglican service of Evening Prayer. La Rocca’s settings breathe an atmosphere of mystical devotion, with the composer extracting luscious harmonies from slow-moving unaccompanied choral writing.
With the permission of Mr. La Rocca, Ancora’s talented accompanist, Justin Hansen, will perform La Rocca’s unpublished 1992 piano solo, “Meditation” ― an intimate, introspective essay written in tribute to a departed friend of the composer.
Latvian composer Ēriks Ešenvalds has not only become one of the most celebrated composers in Latvia, but his works, particularly his choral works, are reaching and touching audiences all over the world. One critic has dubbed the music of Ešenvalds "relentless rapture." His style is definitely tonal, at times echoing the Anglican tradition, and at others reflecting a more ethereal form of post-minimalism.
Ancora will perform two of Ešenvalds’ secular pieces, one of which is inspired by the natural phenomenon that is the northern lights, revealing Ešenvalds’ interest in nature and our place in the universe. It features a verse of a Latvian folk song set as a soprano solo, along with a remarkable use of hand bell chimes and tuned wine glasses. The other work, “Only In Sleep,” based on poetry by Sara Teasdale, is an exceptionally expressive musical setting of a dream of youth.
Born in Romania in 1947, Hungarian composer György Orbán has worked for most of his life as Professor of Composition at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. He is celebrated by choirs and audiences around the world for his vibrant, imaginative, and often playful compositions. His Mass No. 6 for treble voices and piano was composed for the prestigious Angelica Girls' Choir of Budapest. The different movements alternate one, two, or four voice parts, using the equal-voice instrument in a most flexible way. A rather challenging piano part supports the chorus, sometimes underpinning the voices, sometimes in equal counterpoint with them. Says Orbán: "…the audience will probably hear in this mass my profound appreciation of the choral art of J.S. Bach."
Saint Paul resident Abbie Betinis composed “Cedit, Hyems!” (which translates to “Be Gone, Winter!) for women’s choir and flute solo. After an opening that evokes a confused and troubled world, this work bursts into a sweeping attempt to drive the world's coldness away in favor of love.
Tickets for “Sacred Night” are available in advance at brownpapertickets.com or by calling (800) 838-3006. Ticket prices are $13 (general admission) and $11 (seniors.) Students admitted free with valid student ID. At the door prices are $16 (general) and $13 (seniors.)