Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Masters to sing Rachmaninoff

Boise-based chorus to perform Saturday in Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

The Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale will perform Saturday, May 11, in Sun Valley.
Courtesy photo

    Composer Sergei Rachmaninoff wrote two major sacred works: “Vespers,” also known as the All-Night Vigil, and the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, the basic service of the Russian Orthodox Church.
    Recorded widely, “Vespers” is not often performed live because of its intricacy and difficulty, which is why valley arts supporter Tim Eagan couldn’t contain the news months ago when Jim Jirak, director of The Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale, agreed to bring his ensemble here, at Eagan’s suggestion.
    Jirak will lead a performance of “Vespers” at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 11, at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley. It will be free for valley residents.
    Joining the chorale with be mezzo-soprano Heather Foutz and tenor Ryan Batcheller.
    The event is sponsored by the local group A Few Good Men.
    According to the program notes, the hour-long concert event will be sung in the church’s original Slavonic Russian language. “Vespers” includes sung prayers, psalms and hymns that depict the epic grandeur of humanity’s worshipful encounter with its creator, the incarnation of Christ, and finally, the resurrection of Christ.
    Rachmaninoff wrote for the human chorus in a way that few composers have before or since. Voices combine and divide in a seemingly endless variety of ways, soaring heavenward and plunging into the depths, praising and supplicating. At times, solo voices and groups of voices take on dramatic identities, yet the persistent use of chant anchors the music to the human realm.
    The Master Chorale, in its first visit to the Wood River Valley, brings a rich tradition of choral performance in the Boise area since its founding in 1975. Critics have applauded their recent collaborations with the Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, which have included Beethoven’s 9th “Choral” Symphony, Mahler’s 2nd “Resurrection” Symphony and Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.”
    Jirak, artistic director and conductor, has been in that role since 1996. He is an associate professor of music at Boise State University, where he teaches courses in choral music education and directs the award-winning BSU Vocal Jazz Ensemble. He also co-directs the annual Hymns of Thanksgiving Chorus and Orchestra.

Boise Philharmonic Master Chorale
When: Saturday, May 11, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church in Sun Valley.

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