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Choral and Vocal
A MAJESTIC ABS MESSIAH ORATORIO RESOUNDS IN WEILL DEC. 18
by Joanna Bramel Young
Sunday, December 18, 2016
San Francisco’s American Bach Soloists (ABS) presented Handel’s incomparable oratorio Messiah, HWV 56, to a sold out Weill Hall Dec. 18. It was a celebratory afternoon. In the fashion ABS audiences have learned to expect, conductor Jeffrey Thomas brought out the best of orchestra, chorus and solo...
Choral and Vocal
EARLY CHRISTMAS SEASON TRIUMPH FOR 24 ANGELS IN WEILL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Sunday, November 27, 2016
Weill Hall Nov. 27 was packed with an audience of young and old excitedly waiting for an early holiday concert by the Vienna Boys Choir, and this esteemed Choir is a five-hundred year institution which is based in a school of 100 choristers. Four touring groups divide their time between studying and...
Choral and Vocal
EASTER AND ASCENSION ORATORIOS SOAR IN ABS MARIN CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, April 22, 2016
Three baroque composers were brought together April 22 at the American Bach Soloists‘ offering of oratorios: Buxtehude, Johann Kuhnau and Bach. In Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church the ABS highlighted the sequence of influence for these three masters, displaying stunning choral singing, virtuoso in...
Choral and Vocal
CHANTICLEER SINGS TO THE MOON IN WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, April 16, 2016
The renowned male a cappella  Chanticleer choir presented an "Over the Moon" program April 15 at the Green Music Centers Weill Hall.  The audience, including many choral music cognoscenti, was entranced by a varied and enriching program spanning centuries and continents. The theme of the evening was...
Choral and Vocal
RUTTER REQUIEM PERFORMANCE ENNOBLES GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT AT INCARNATION
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 25, 2016
There is a lot to like in John Rutter’s Requiem. Composed in 1985, it’s arguably the most performed large choral work of recent times, and it was a labor of love for choral director Carol Menke’s musicians in a memorable Good Friday concert in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation. Splendid Requi...
Choral and Vocal
SEAMLESS ENSEMBLE AT MENKE-THOMPSON-ZAJAC CONCERT IN SCHROEDER
by Christa Durand
Sunday, March 13, 2016
Those who braved the storm March 13 to attend diva Carol Menke’s recital in the intimate Schroeder Hall were rewarded with a warm program of chamber music for voice, clarinet and piano.  Brahms’ E-Flat Clarinet Sonata, Op. 120, No. 2, opened the concert.  The interplay and communication between pia...
Choral and Vocal
HANDEL A FEAST AT ABS BELVEDERE CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, February 26, 2016
American Bach Soloists (ABS) once again enchanted a full house in Belvedere’s St. Stephen’s Church February 26 with an exciting, varied, virtuosic performance, this concert offering works solely by Handel. Germany-born Handel made his way to England after an extended stay in Italy, where he was ...
Choral and Vocal
NEW ABS MARIN SEASON A BACH FEAST
by Joanna Bramel Young
Friday, January 22, 2016
Playing to a full house Jan. 22 at St. Stephen’s Church in Belvedere, the American Bach Soloists launched its twenty-seventh season with a program of four Bach Favorites - two delectable instrumental compositions sandwiched between a pair of cantatas that ABS had performed in its very first concert....
Choral and Vocal
MEDITATIONS ON THE ARTIST
by Mark Kratz
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Schroeder Hall's vocal recital Jan. 17 centered on the life of the artist, and tenor Nicholas Phan described the recital as “meditations on the artist” that highlighted the concepts of hypersensitivity and a sense of child-like wonder that many artists experience. The entire first half of the rec...
Choral and Vocal
MAGNIFICENT BACH CHRISTMAS ORATORIO IN ABS ST. IGNATIUS CONCERT
by Joanna Bramel Young
Saturday, December 12, 2015
The American Bach Soloists presented Dec. 12 a performance of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in San Francisco’s magnificent St. Ignatius Church. The church, built in 1912 and one of San Francisco’s largest, was nearly filled with legions of appreciative Bach and ABS fans. First heard in 1734 and standi...
CHORAL AND VOCAL REVIEW
Church of the Incarnation / Friday, March 25, 2016
St. Cecilia Choir, Cantiamo Sonoma, Incarnation Chamber Orchestra and soprano Claire Frydenlund. Carol Menke, conductor

Carol Menke (left) lauds performers after March 25 Requiem performance

RUTTER REQUIEM PERFORMANCE ENNOBLES GOOD FRIDAY CONCERT AT INCARNATION

by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 25, 2016

There is a lot to like in John Rutter’s Requiem. Composed in 1985, it’s arguably the most performed large choral work of recent times, and it was a labor of love for choral director Carol Menke’s musicians in a memorable Good Friday concert in Santa Rosa’s Church of the Incarnation.

Splendid Requiems seem perfectly suited to Incarnation, and I recall recent Duruflé and Cherubini versions, and another Rutter directed by effervescent Ms. Menke three years ago. The March 25 concert before a standing room audience was a radiant transversal of the short 45-minute score that involved Cantiamo Sonoma and the St. Cecilia Choir, a tiny orchestra and soloist soprano Claire Frydenlund.

Rutter’s warmly accessible work comprises seven movements with Latin liturgy and additional texts in English, and in this performance 24 singers with Robert Young’s organ (often in pedal point) combined with six musicians under Ms. Menke’s deft control. Timpanist John Weeks, harpist Wendy Tamis and flutist Jane Shelly played well in the opening Introit and Kyrie, though choir entrances sporadically were ragged and the ensemble initially unsteady but quickly settled down.

The somber “Out of the Deep” began with a moving lament from cellist Laura McLellan that wove in and out of the vocal fabric, and the antiphonal effects in the small sanctuary were clear. Ms. Frydenlund’s soprano had greater resonance and command when she sang at the top of her range, over long organ, cello and harp phrases.

The celebratory Sanctus was enlivened all the more by Tim Dent's’ glockenspiel playing, a contrast to the dirge-like Agnus Dei with an extended and haunting flute solo by Ms. Shelly. Psalm 23 is the text for the bucolic sixth part (“The Lord is My Shepherd”) where the rich Andante vocal lines blossomed out of an extended fabric of elegant oboe playing by Laura Reynolds.

In the finale Lux Aeterna Ms. Frydenlund, singing from the choir, returned with a chaste duo with the flute and soft timpani. Here the music became glowing and presented a transfiguring effect on the audience.

After the last notes Ms. Menke’s hands slowly returned to rest, and as she turned to acknowledge the rapt hearers, there was no response for at least ten seconds before ovation broke the silence. The conductor, Sonoma County’s busiest and best-known soprano, has developed a penchant for producing captivating requiem performances that ennoble their calendar season, composer and community.