A Poet's Christmas - Two Crittersongs for the Wintertime Premiere
Dear friend of Sacred & Profane,
Sacred and Profane's mission includes a commitment to performing new works and premieres. A number of years ago we held a commission competition. We went on to sing the winning work -- Italia Mia, a setting of Petrarch's poem by Loretta Notarseschi -- in two programs in the following years. We have performed many other new works by composers, but we haven't commissioned another work until now.
A couple of years ago, James Tecuatl-Lee sang a beautiful audition for me and joined S&P's baritone section. Little did I know when bringing him into the choir that he was a gifted up-and-coming composer! In the couple of years since James moved to the Bay Area after graduating from Dartmouth University in New Hampshire, many of his pieces have been performed, including a fabulous work for the San Francisco Choral Artists that was premiered in their "Prayers from the Ark" program of Jewish music presented in March of this year.
When we heard about the East Bay Community Foundation's matching grant for new works by local artists, the Sacred and Profane board jumped on the opportunity to apply for support to commission a new work by James for our December 2016 concert. We were thrilled to receive the challenge grant, and S&P’s donors – including many of you! -- generously stepped up to help us match the grant.
James sent me updates throughout the summer as his work took shape. Being a great lover of animals (as those of you who heard last season's concerts dedicated to the creatures of the world know), I was delighted when James chose poems from Kenneth Grahame's Wind in the Willows and by poet Jane Johnston Schoolcraft that focus on animals in wintertime.
The ensuing cycle, titled Two Crittersongs for the Wintertime, includes two delightful works. "Carol of the Field Mice” is a joyous Christmas Carol, with a rich polyphony of sweeping scales that weave against each other in a complex harmonic exclamation. “Song of Okogis” is a surprising theatrical work that utilizes costuming, space, unusual percussion, and extended vocal technique to tell the story of a frog fighting against the oppressive cold of wintertime. We've been having a blast in rehearsals with these pieces, and we're thrilled to be part of this exciting young composer's launch into the world!
We hope you'll come out to hear these exciting pieces, in addition to Karin Rehnqvist's When I close my eyes, I dream of peace and our recreation of the BBC's 1944 Christmas Eve Broadcast, A Poet's Christmas!
Finally, in the name of the Giving Tuesday tradition, please consider making a donation to Sacred & Profane this year. In addition to helping us with all of the financial needs, your tax-deductable contribution will enable us to continue commissioning work from local young composers.