FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 12, 2017 CONTACT: Diana Landau
chatham chorale presents “The creation”
Orchestra, Noted Soloists Join Singers for Haydn’s Masterpiece
Chatham, MA / March 12, 2016 – The Chatham Chorale and guest musicians will breathe new life into Franz Joseph Haydn’s great oratorio The Creation in performances on Saturday, April 22 at 7 pm, and Sunday, April 23 at 3 pm, both at the Monomoy Performing Arts Center, Monomoy Regional High School in Harwich.
“This is one of the true cornerstones of the choral repertoire, and it hasn’t been heard on Cape Cod for several years,” says Music Director Joseph Marchio, who leads the assembled forces in these concerts. “We’re fortunate to have three outstanding vocalists for the demanding solo roles, and a full complement of superb instrumentalists to play Haydn’s brilliant score.”
In the summer of 1795, someone gave Haydn a libretto on the subject of the biblical Creation. Apparently it had been intended for Handel, whose monumental Messiah had made a huge impression on Haydn when he heard it on a visit to England. Haydn had vowed to create his own sacred oratorio on a similarly grand scale—and now he had his material. Back in Vienna, he and a collaborator edited the texts, which come mainly from the Book of Genesis and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Then he set to work composing.
“The Creation” unfolds in three parts. In the first two, the archangels Gabriel (soprano), Uriah (tenor), and Raphael (baritone) describe the six days of creation in recitative and aria, while the “heavenly host” (the chorus) joins in with jubilant hymns of praise. “When the chorus bursts forth on ‘Let there be light!’ it’s one of the great moments in all of music,” says Marchio.
Part Three portrays the first morning in Eden, with Adam (the baritone again) and Eve (soprano) celebrating God’s work and their love for each other. Again the chorus provides commentary, and the climactic choruses, says one writer, “deploy Haydn’s ripest symphonic and contrapuntal mastery with a freedom, variety, and sheer brilliance of effect … obviously inspired by Handel’s example.”
Eve and the angel Gabriel are voiced by soprano Joan Kirchner, well known on the Cape and environs as a soloist, voice teacher, and organist, and for her special expertise in the early music realm. Joan has sung with Toronto’s Tafelmusik Chamber Choir and Boston’s Handel & Haydn Society A frequent guest artist with the Chorale, she has been called “a singer possessed of sensitive musical intelligence and charm of presentation.” Boston-based tenor Jason McStoots (the angel Uriah) has appeared with the Cape Symphony, Boston Lyric Opera, and the Tanglewood Music Festival, among many vocal assignments; he joined the Chorale in 2011 for Benjamin Britten’s Saint Nicolas. Jason won a GRAMMY with the Boston Early Music Festival for his performance of the music of Charpentier. He teaches voice at Brandeis University. Baritone Thomas Jones has made solo appearances with hundreds of choruses and orchestras nationwide over his three-decade-long career, including a 2015 engagement with the Chorale for Brahms’ Requiem. He has long taught voice and vocal performance through the Office for the Arts at Harvard University. The New York Times’s Anthony Tommasini wrote that he sings “with plush sounds and musical vigor.”
Haydn was a great man of 18th-century Vienna, and his Creation was welcomed with tumultuous enthusiasm on its premiere in April 1798. When the old composer took his curtain call, spectators cried,“Long live Father Haydn, long live music!” Even though the Catholic church banned it from sacred venues because of its benign view of humanity (Original Sin is barely mentioned), the oratorio has been welcomed and loved by audiences and musicians around the world ever since.
Haydn voiced his own hope for the work in a letter from 1802: “Often, when I was struggling with all kinds of obstacles ... a secret voice whispered to me: ‘There are so few happy and contented people in this world; sorrow and grief follow them everywhere; perhaps your labour will become a source from which the careworn ... will for a while derive peace and refreshment.”’ Those who come to hear these performances can experience the same.
Chatham Chorale is one of Cape Cod’s longest-established choral ensembles, for 46 years presenting an annual concert series with programs ranging from choral masterworks to Broadway, pops stylings, and premieres of new works by regional composers. The Chorale also regularly collaborates with the Cape Symphony—for example, in the annual Holiday Pops concerts and in the upcoming John F. Kennedy Centennial Commemoration concert on May 28—and sings in service to the community.
Tickets ($25 open/$30 reserved) can be purchased by telephone, 774-212-9333, or at the door the day of the concert. Students and those under 18 admitted free with a ticket (call the number above). For more information, visit www.chathamchorale.org.
Captions for accompanying photos:
The Chatham Chorale and Music Director Joseph Marchio. Photo by Bob Tucker/FocalPoint.
Soprano Joan Kirchner appears with the Chatham Chorale in Haydn’s The Creation.
[soloist photo credits on request]
Tenor Jason McStoots appears with the Chatham Chorale in Haydn’s The Creation.
Baritone Thomas Jones appears with the Chatham Chorale in Haydn’s The Creation.