By Karen Greer
For the Journal Inquirer
November 15, 2012
Manchester Chorale will be singing traditional music at 7:30 on November 17th at Emanuel Lutheran Church, but the concert itself will be an experiment. Instead of Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale’s usual December concert, chorale music director Kevin L. Mack has chosen a program for the season of harvest and thanksgiving.
Hans DePold, a chorale member and Bolton’s town historian, is enthusiastic about the change in the concert schedule. “What a fantastic revolutionary idea it is this year that the MSOC will have a concert of thanksgiving for all America has to be grateful . . .before the Christmas season.”
Those who like their harvest best when it’s local should enjoy The Haymakers, by 19th-century New England composer George Frederick Root. Like heirloom produce, The Haymakers was once popular; now, as chorale member Ruth Rempt observes, “It is a rarely produced work that should get more exposure.”
In Root’s “operatic cantata”, the chorus assumes the role of the busy haymakers. The music quickens in tempo as they hurry to gather the harvest ahead of an approaching storm. Rapid ascending scales depict the “rushing, howling wind”; descending scales, the “torrents pouring down.”
The power of nature is very much on the minds of the Manchester Chorale’s singers, as the region still struggles to recover from recent storms. Diana Belbruno says, “At a time when so many of our friends and neighbors have lost things during the hurricane, it’s good to stop and think about how much we have to be thankful for.”
The harvest and thanksgiving theme of this concert is a chance to reflect on the need to work together, just as in the days of haymaking and barn-raising. The concert will include the community with a selection of hymns for the audience to join in singing with the chorale.
One of those hymns, Now Thank We All Our God, was used by Johann Sebastian Bach for his Cantata #192 (Nun Danket Alle Gott), which is also on the program and includes a duet by soprano R’el Rodriguez and bass Miguel Angel Vasquez.
Bach cantatas are unmatched in their beauty and power, but are also among the greatest challenges for choral singers. To sing with the precision and expression they demand requires not only individual effort, but an understanding of each part’s contribution to the whole.
The chorale is mastering Bach’s intricate music under Mack’s direction, sometimes singing numbers instead of words to ensure that the different vocal parts are lined up. Mack reminds the singers not to lose the musical phrasing: “Think of the line as a string player would play it.”
Despite the storm’s disruptions to their rehearsal schedule, the musicians hope that they, and the audience, will reap the rewards of their hard work.
Hymns of Harvest and Thanksgiving will be performed at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2012 at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 60 Church Street, Manchester. Tickets can be purchased at the door. Prices are $18; $15 for seniors and students, and free for those under 18 years of age. For further information, call 860-646-0047, e-mail MusicSix [at] cox.net, or visit the Manchester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale on its Facebook page or at its website: www.msoc.org