March 16-20, 2019
Eighty years ago the caustic composer and critic Virgil Thomson described what it was like for a composer to write American music. He said, “…just be born in America and write music. It’s that easy!” But is it just that? Isn’t our American musical canvas vast? Our heritage magnificent? Spacious Skies will be a celebration of American music, from the raw, raunchy, Colonial spirit of William Billings through the backwoods of Appalachia, down the rolling Shenandoah, across the prairies and ending up in our own backyard. Barber, Rorem and Corigliano have been inspired by old worlds. Mason Bates, Peter Gabriel and Stephen Stucky have conquered newer ones. Gershwin, Weill, Blossom Dearie and the Andrews Sisters join in the musical parade as we raise our voices in song: patriotic, spiritual, sassy, romantic. Walt Whitman exclaimed, “I hear America singing.” In this program, we share his joy over and over again.
June 8-15, 2019
“Holiness is all around us.” We sing, as we have for forty years, about the joys of the kingdom, especially as they may be found on Earth. The Hebrew tradition says that Yahweh told Moses to take off his shoes, for “this is holy ground.” The African-American spiritual assures us “My God is a Rock,” and composers from Hassler to Victoria, Palestrina to Dufay have found musical comfort and inspiration from texts such as “Upon this Rock shall I build my church” or “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.” The great English carol says, “King Jesus hath a garden.” Ours is filled with music from the Spanish Renaissance to Anglican chant, from Hebrew psalms to early American hymns. Keep your shoes on if you like, but know that we will be on holy ground.