Choral Arts Society Performs Gershwin's Porgy and Bess and More
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- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Mass in C Major, K. 337
- Morten Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna
- George Gershwin (arr. Bennett): Porgy and Bess: Concert Version
- Norman Scribner, conductor
- Joseph Holt, conductor
- Janice Chandler Eteme, soprano
- Alvy Powell, baritone
The Choral Arts Society of Washington presents a colorful and invigorating program in the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall. This concert features Gershwin’s beloved modern opera, Porgy and Bess, in a delightful concert version highlighting the uniquely American beauties of Summertime, It Ain’t Necessarily So, and more. Under the baton of Associate Conductor Joseph Holt, world-renowned soloists Janice Chandler Eteme and Alvy Powell will bring to life the jazz and folk infused score. Artistic Director Norman Scribner will conduct the Mozart Mass in C Major, K. 337 (Missa Solemnis) and Morten Lauridsen’s stunning Lux Aeterna, one of America’s greatest contemporary choral works. A post-concert discussion will feature Artistic Director Norman Scribner, Associate Conductor Joseph Holt and Musicologist Wayne Shirley.
Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess captivates audiences from the first notes of the famous melody of Summertime through the final chord of Oh, Lawd, I’m on My Way. Premiered in 1935, the dramatic plot deals with 1930s African American life in fictional Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. The 40-minute concert version was arranged by Gershwin’s close friend Robert Russell Bennett and features highlights from the celebrated score complete with full chorus and orchestra. Seventy years after its debut, Porgy and Bess remains one of Gershwin’s most well-known and thrilling compositions.
The program includes two shorter works which are both set to sacred texts. Written in March 1780, Mozart’s Mass in C Major was completed during Mozart’s last months in Salzburg for the Archbishop Colloredo. This rarely performed piece will be sung in Latin by chamber choir and accompanied by chamber orchestra. Also performed in Latin, Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna (Light Eternal) premiered in 1997 to wide acclaim and has quickly become a cherished favorite of contemporary choral repertoire.
Soprano Janice Chandler Eteme has performed with Choral Arts in numerous concerts and was a featured soloist during their ground-breaking tour of Russia in 1993 and the Choral Arts recording There Shall a Star: Choral Jewels for Christmas. Ms. Chandler Eteme last wowed Choral Arts audiences at the 2004-2005 Christmas Music Concerts and MLK Tribute. Among America’s foremost lyric sopranos, she is known for her exceptional musicianship, artistry, and conviction. Her 2006-2007 season has included performances with the Nashville Symphony under the direction of Leonard Slatkin, a French tour with the Orchestre National de la Pays de La Loire, and performances with the New Jersey Symphony, the National Arts Centre Orchestra, and the Memphis Symphony. Her voice has been called “magnificent” and “sublime.”
Baritone Alvy Powell is one of the world’s best-known interpreters of the role of Porgy, having won acclaim for his performances both at home and abroad. Mr. Powell has performed the role of Porgy over 1200 times with such companies as La Scala, New York City Opera Live at Lincoln Center PBS, San Francisco Opera, Cape Town Opera, Sydney and Houston. His interpretation of Porgy has been called “perfect” and “intense, human, and vibrant”. Mr. Powell is featured as Porgy on the 2006 recording of the original 1935 score with the Nashville Symphony on the DECCA label. In addition to his operatic performances, Sergeant First Class Alvy Powell is a soloist with The United States Army Chorus. He has performed at the White House on multiple occasions and for numerous presidents and political figures.