DECISIONS, DECISIONS, ETC.

Here I go again, wondering what was your favorite piece that Opus 24 sang in our 2014 Fall concert. I always ask concert goers this question as we discuss the performance. I know it is a tough decision for most, and usually the answer ends up something like, “Well, I really liked ‘X’, but I also liked ‘Y’, and also ‘Z’. That is really a complement to the variety of music we sing, and to the diversity of taste our listeners have for good choral music!

I also reflect on what was my favorite piece. By the time we perform it, I’ve already chosen the ones that I liked the best, since we have rehearsed each one many times. This concert was just a bit different for reflection, since we sang Vivaldi’s Gloria. The truth be told, when we were instructed to get this oratorio out, someone, or some section, would be inspired to break out in Van Morrison’s song Gloria, usually spelling the name correctly.

I would have to say that my favorite was Todd’s My Lord Has Come with its fascinating chord structures and simple nativity reflections. I also especially enjoyed our last song. Dan Forrest’s The Work of Christmas is a beautiful piece, with its simple and haunting melody created for Howard Thurman’s poetic message reminding listeners of what the Christmas season must really tell us. It is a quiet, thoughtful piece to send us out to fulfill our responsibilities towards others.

Do you like to plan ahead? Remember to note in your calendars that our next concert will be on May 12, 2015. We will enjoy sharing our music with you. And Merry Christmas to you all, and a good New Year!

Bill Horton
President
Decatur Choral Society

A Question

Get ready for our first question to you after our fall concert. Many of us will want to know which music selection was your favorite? Remember to bring a pen to jot down notes on your program for reference when we ask you.

This is a tough year to pick a favorite. You may think of Vivaldi’s Gloria as having nine choruses. There are several of these that are swirling around my brain throughout the week. (See my article “Earworms” which is also found on this website.) Gloria also has a duet written for angels and three solos, all sung by members of Opus 24.

We will have three selections sung by our recipients of the Decatur Choral Society’s voice lesson scholarships. We are looking forward to hearing this generation of future musicians. You will also enjoy listening to our accompanist, Beth Creighton, play a piece for us and later play with the string quartet with Dr. Bruce Gibbons playing a duel piano part in a very dramatic arrangement of Angels from the Realms of Glory. The Heritage quartet will accompany Opus as well as play some selections of their own.

This concert is going to be a special one with a nice variety of music, and is just right for starting our Christmas season. Please join us on November 25, 2014. We look forward to seeing you, and — what will be your favorite piece?

Bill Horton
President
Decatur Choral Society

Background for Vivaldi’s Gloria

At our November 25, 2014 concert, Opus 24 will sing Vivaldi’s Gloria. This is one of many liturgical and secular pieces by the prolific composer, probably written around 1715, and is one of his best known pieces.

Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), Baroque composer, violin virtuoso, teacher, and priest, lived almost all of his life in Venice. He was ordained in 1703, but the clerical life was not for him. That year he accepted a music teaching position at Ospedale della Pieta, a home and academy for abandoned, orphaned, or otherwise discarded children. The Pieta was well regarded due to the high quality music education it provided for its choir and orchestra. Much of the music Vivaldi composed was for his students’ use.

Venice was a vibrant and dynamic city in the early 18th century, and there was a demand for music for festivals, feasts, parties, and religious services. Vivaldi filled many commissions for oratorios, concerts (mostly for violin), and operas. He commanded a high price. During a ten year period he composed 140 concerti.

He was sensitive to criticism, and vain about his skills—both as a composer and as a violinist. He had his detractors at the Pieta, and in one rough patch with its its board of directors, his contract was not renewed. He free-lanced for a time until the board came to its senses, rehired Vivaldi, gave him a promotion, and a raise in pay.

Vivaldi was an innovative composer. He expanded the concerto form as well as musical rhythmic and harmonic structures. Toward the end of his life, his compositional style fell out of favor. To make ends meet he sold many of his manuscripts.

The Gloria was rediscovered in the late 1920’s, along with 300 of his concertos, 19 operas, and over 100 vocal/instrumental pieces. Only in 1957 was the Gloria published in its original form.

Carmen Dunn
Decatur Choral Society Board of Directors