We're currently working on the achingly beautiful music from Bolivia/Upper Peru and Mexico in the mission period. We will first sing the music in Bolivia, then in California in May. LAB XV, under the direction of Ben Johns, is also working on mission music. They'll perform outside at some of our mission concerts in May, but they've already started on their own tour. Last night's concert was in the Mission San Jose in Fremont, on a very rainy day. Here's Education Director Ben John's report:
The picture attached here is from the concert last night where LAB XV appeared as the special guest of the CSU East Bay Singers at the Mission San José in Fremont. It depicts the combined ensembles singing Antonio de Salazar's "O Sacrum Convivium" with me conducting. The CSUEB director said after warm-up, "I'm sure that Salazar must be jumping up and down in his grave with excitement. He probably never heard this piece sung that well with so many singers." It was a particularly full rendering - perfect considering that the text means "O sacred feast."
The concert was especially significant because LAB XV sang two works discovered in the San José mission archives by Craig Russell: Para dar luz immortal and Canon a la Virgen. Para dar luz in particular is a work which venerates Saint Joseph (husband of Mary), the San José mission, and the notoriously great choir which sang there during the height of the California Mission era. We also reintroduced a piece which we think has not been sung for an audience for over 200 years: Adiuva nos, Deus by Manuel de Sumaya (Salazar's student and successor as chapel master at the Mexico City Cathedral).
Former LAB singer (and future Sonoma workshop participant), Toran Davenport, now sings with the CSU East Bay Singers. In fact, he was with the 6th LAB Choir and was familiar with some of the repertoire presented last night. The East Bay Singers presented a great variety of high level music, highlights of which are Britten's Hymn to St. Cecilia, Singet dem Herrn by Hugo Distler, and Ubi Caritas by David Conte.
I also had the pleasure of speaking with someone who works at the mission who eagerly awaits Chanticleer's return this May! So, in spite of the rainy evening, we all shared a special musical experience and look forward to the music-making to come.