The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Wisconsin Chamber Choir celebrates the centennial of British composer Benjamin Britten this Saturday night, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. | May 30, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

To mark the centennial of the great modern British composer Benjamin Britten, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir (below top) will perform “Benjamin Britten and Friends.”

Wisconsin Chamber Choir 1

Special guest performers are the  Britten Choir (below, in a photo by Karen Holland) of the Madison Youth Choirs, conducted by Randal Swiggum.

Madison Youth Purcell and Britten Choirs cr Karen Holland

The concert is this Saturday night, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. in St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church, 5700 Pheasant Hill Road, in Monona, Wisconsin.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. They are available via Brown Paper Tickets or www.wisconsinchamberchoir.org or at the door.

Benjamin Britten (below, 1913-1976) was perhaps the greatest choral composer of the 20th century. In celebration of Britten’s 100th anniversary this year, the Wisconsin Chamber Choir has assembled a delightful program featuring Britten’s quirky cantata, “Rejoice in the Lamb,” along with his rapturously beautiful “Five Flower Songs” (at bottom in a YouTube video).

Benjamin Britten

Complimenting Britten’s works are pieces by his “friends” (both figuratively and literally), including music by Arvo Pärt, Henry Purcell, Percy Grainger and Frank Bridge, who taught Britten. The Britten Choir of Madison Youth Choirs, conducted by Randal Swiggum (below), will make a special appearance performing music by Britten and others.

Randall Swiggum

Organist and pianist Mark Brampton Smith (below) joins the WCC performing the virtuoso keyboard parts in Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb and in several of Percy Grainger’s boisterous folksong arrangements.

Mark Brampton Smith

Founded in 1999, the Madison-based Wisconsin Chamber Choir has established a reputation for excellence in the performance of oratorios from the Baroque and Classical eras, a cappella masterworks from various centuries, and world premieres. Robert Gehrenbeck (below), the director of choral activities at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, is the WCC’s Artistic Director.

Robert Gehrenbeck

 


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