This November, the Wagner College Choir will present its fall concert, “A Wedding of Sorts,” in three performances: Staten Island on Nov. 8, Kingston on Nov. 14 and Syracuse on Nov. 15. The program will include music by Thomas Tallis, George Frideric Handel, Arvo Pärt, James MacMillan, Dan Forrest, Will Todd, Javier Busto, Julio Fonseca, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Take 6, Jarle Bernhoft, Barbara Wesby and Roger Wesby. The public is invited to all three performances.
OLD ... The Wagner College Choir joyfully returns to the very heart of the choral tradition with works by the great English renaissance master, Thomas Tallis, Italian baroque composer Giuseppe Pitoni and excerpts from Handel’s “Messiah.”
NEW ... The choir explores new (and newish) terrain in works by Estonian master Arvo Pärt (“The Beatitudes,” “Cantate Dominum Canticum Novum”), Scottish composer James MacMillan (“O Radiant Dawn”), British composer Will Todd (“Our Lord Has Come”), American composer Dan Forrest (“The Music of Living”), Basque composer Javier Bustos (“Sagastipean,” “Esta tierra”) and new works by Wagner professor and choir accompanist Barbara Wesby (“A New York Triptych”) and conductor Roger Wesby (“I Will Arise”).
BORROWED ... For her “Triptych,” Barbara Wesby borrows liberally (and lovingly) from 1920s classic blues, 1950s modernism, and classic tango to set poems by Langston Hughes, Charles Reznikof and Dorothy Parker. Roger Wesby borrows respectfully from the blues, gospel and jazz traditions, marrying them with concert style in “I Will Arise,” a work that juxtaposes verses from the Psalms with Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” to honor the Charleston Nine. Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos borrows from Afro-Brazilian tradition in his makumba, “Estrela é lua nova,” Lyondev mines the riches of Bulgarian folk music in his now-classic “Ergen deda,” and Mervyn Warren of Take 6 borrows from gospel, jazz and a very sophisticated kind of doo wop in “Come unto Me.”
BLUE ... Norwegian singer-songwriter Jarle Bernhoft’s timely song about human trafficking, “Streetlights,” is set in an urban blue consistent with its content. Roger Wesby’s “Arise,” Villa-Lobos’ makumba, Take 6’s “Come unto Me” and Barbara Wesby’s “A Juke Box Love Song” all serve generous portions of blue tonality.
THERE WILL BE DANCING ... From Barbara Wesby’s slow drag and tango, through Villa-Lobos’ makumba and the triumphant gospel slide-step of Roger Wesby’s “I Will Arise,” and even the toe-tapping “And the Glory of the Lord” from “Messiah,” there will be lots of celebration at this wedding.
AND A SENSE OF PLACE(S) ... Whether scenes from New York City, the landscapes (and mindscapes) so lovingly painted by Bustos in “Sagastipean” and “Esta tierra,” the bright, sunny Costa Rican morning of Julio Fonseca’s “Mañanitas,” the bustling, gossip-filled Eastern European marketplace of “Ergen deda” or the tagged and graffitied inner city of Oslo …
AND SOME TIMELESS THEMES ... From the first notes of Tallis’ “I Heard The Voice Of Jesus Say,” words of hope and words to challenge will weave threads throughout the program. Images of light and glory alternate with texts of rest and refreshment, calls to service and expressions of praise.
AND HUMOR ... While there won’t be any toasts, there will be plenty of light-hearted moments, from Barbara Wesby’s tongue-in-cheek recastings of classic genres, to the sometimes boisterous, sometimes naïve folk music …
To light, and life, and love — and may there always be music!
Sunday, Nov. 8, 4 p.m.
Trinity Lutheran Church, 309 St. Pauls Ave., Staten Island, N.Y.
Admission $15 (Wagner students: free)
Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m.
Redeemer Lutheran Church, 104 Wurts St., Kingston, N.Y.
For information: (845) 338-8930, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday, Nov. 15, 3 p.m.
St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 873 Dewitt St., Syracuse, N.Y.
For information: (315) 479-9912, email@example.com