The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: The Rural Musicians Forum offers two FREE but contrasting modern “Magnificats” — by Jonathan Willcocks and Alan Hovhaness — this coming weekend in Spring Green and Plain. | December 2, 2014

By Jacob Stockinger

Our friends at the Rural Musicians Forum — which is directed by Kent Mayfield (below) of Milwaukee and which does such a laudable service by bringing classical music to rural areas in south  central Wisconsin — send us the following word about some remarkable performances this coming weekend:

Kent Mayfield  Rural Musicians Forum

“The Rural Musicians Forum welcomes the holiday season with two Advent concerts in early December. Each concert features the ancient text of the “Magnificat” in two dramatically contrasting modern musical settings for orchestra, chorus and soloists.

One performance will be at 7 p.m. on this Friday, Dec. 5, at the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church (below), at 253 West Washington Street in Spring Green.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The second is at 3 p.m. on this Sunday, Dec. 7 at the basilica-like St. Luke’s Catholic Church (below), at 1240 Nachreiner Avenue, in Plain.

St Luke's Church in Plain

Both concerts will be directed by Gregory Dennis (below), who is widely appreciated around the state for his able choral direction.

Gregory DennisJPG

The concerts are NOT ticketed. A free-will offering will be received. These concerts are underwritten in part by support from the Spring Green Area Arts Coalition, the Spring Green Arts and Crafts Fair, Kraemer Brothers LLC and generous individual donors.

“The first work is from the British composer, Jonathan Willcocks (below), who is known for a broad range of choral and orchestral music, much of it written for television and film, as well as for King’s College Christmas celebrations.

His “Magnificat” is a melodious, rhythmic and colorful piece, set in five contrasting movements from the Latin with two additional 15th-century texts in praise of the Virgin Mary and interweaves the Latin of the Church with the English of the common people — as if interweaving spiritual and secular themes through the use of two languages.

Jonathan Willcocks 2

“The second setting for the “Magnificat” is strikingly different. Influenced by the sounds and rhythms of the Holy Land, Alan Hovhaness (below) — who is also known as an “American mystic” — captures the mysticism, the beauty and the burning ardor of early Christianity. The result is an experience of intense longing, a declaration of grateful praise and resounding jubilation from voices filled with faith. (You can hear the opening of the Magnificat by Alan Hovhaness in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

alan hovhaness full face

Announcing the concerts, RMF’s Artistic Director Kent Mayfield notes, “In Willcocks, we have vitality and joyful excitement. With Hovhaness, we sense mystery, inspiration and an unforgettable radiant beauty. Each brings an abiding sense of spirituality to an often-secular holiday. Each prompts a stirring emotional response appropriate to the season.”

“‘Two Magnificats: Ancient Texts – Modern Voices’ promises a rich musical experience exploring deeper themes of personal and universal, spiritual and aesthetic meaning in a single holiday celebration.”

“Two performances of “Two Magnificats” are scheduled with full orchestra and featuring soloists soprano Christina Kay (below top), alto Katie Butitta (below second), tenor J. Adam Shelton (below third) and bass Derek Miller (below bottom).

christina kay magnificat

Katie Butitta

J. Adam Shelton

Derek Miller

For more information about the Rural Musicians Forum and its concert series, here is a link:

http://www.ruralmusiciansforum.org

 

 

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4 Comments »

  1. I’ve enjoyed the music of Alan Hovhaness ever since I heard a recording of his “Mysterious Mountain” on an international airline flight. After landing, I immediately went out and bought it and it remains a treasured piece in my collection. I’m not familiar with this choral work but the segment of it on the attached You Tube is nice too.

    Comment by fflambeau — December 3, 2014 @ 11:14 pm

  2. Generously supportive….much appreciated, my friend.

    Comment by Kent Mayfield — December 3, 2014 @ 8:04 am

  3. Jake,

    I plan to attend in Spring Green, though the church was not designed by Wright, who was quite dead when it was built. It’s the work of William Wesley Peters for Taliesin Asscoiated Architects.

    Michael

    . . .

    Comment by Michael Bridgeman — December 2, 2014 @ 8:58 am

    • Michael,
      Thank you for reading and replying with the correction.
      I wil change it from Wright-designed to Wright-inspired.
      I hope you think that is fair and accurate.
      If not, let me know.
      Enjoy the concert.
      Best,
      Jake

      Comment by welltemperedear — December 2, 2014 @ 9:06 am


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