PCC presents Thankfulness

Prentice Concert Chorale, under the direction of Leslie Poss, will present an evening of choral music on Thursday, November 13 at 7:00 PM at Covenant Presbyterian Church, 113 Hargrove Road, in Tuscaloosa. General admission tickets, $10 for adults and $5 for students, will be available at the door.

The Prentice Concert Chorale’s theme for the 2014-15 season is “Music You Love by People You Know.” This opening November concert, entitled “Thankfulness”, will include music by American composers William Billings, Aaron Copland, and Stephen Paulus. The chorale will also perform the Utrecht Te Deum (HWV 278) by George Frederic Handel with orchestra.

William Billings (1746-1800), considered to be America’s first choral composer, wrote numerous a cappella hymns that were collected in several compilations, such as The Singing Master’s Assistant (1778) and The Continental Harmony (1794). He was popular in his day, living and composing in Boston and establishing several singing schools. He was known for his unconventional use of harmonies and stirring rhythmic settings of hymn poetry, much of it written by Isaac Watts. He often employed musically self-aware humor in his musical settings, and wrote in styles that ranged from pieces heavily influenced by early American folk music to pieces that evoked the choruses of Handel. Prentice Chorale will perform several pieces by Billings, including the tongue-in-cheek Modern Musick and his setting of the Song of Solomon text, I am the Rose of Sharon.

Aaron Copland (1900-1990) is another iconic American composer whose life and work spanned the 20th century and crystallized a musical style for a new generation that is truly American. Perhaps best known for his major works such as the 1944 ballet Appalachian Spring and his Third Symphony, Copland wrote only one opera, The Tender Land (1954). The Chorale will perform the best-known selection from this opera, the first act closing anthem, The Promise of Living, that sings of gratitude and hope at the time of the spring harvest. Prentice Concert Chorale will also perform a piece by another prolific American composer, Stephen Paulus (b. 1949), entitled The Road Home. The piece evokes a sense of comfort and assurance with its simple hymn style and warm harmonies.

The signature piece of the concert will be the first part G. F. Handel’s Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate, commissioned by the British royal family in 1713 to celebrate the Peace of Utrecht. The first part of this piece, Te Deum, is a setting of the text of an early Christian hymn of praise, also referred to as Ambrosian Hymn. It is a text of celebration and gratitude, set for SSATB chorus, with soprano, alto, tenor, and bass soli with orchestra. Those familiar with Handel’s other choral works will find familiar elements such as elaborate choral fugues with dance-like rhythms, as well as passionate harmonic turns which highlight the heart-felt text of praise and celebration.

Prentice Concert Chorale is an auditioned choir of professional and amateur singers joining to perform major works of choral literature, original compositions by local composers (including commissioned pieces), and high quality choral music of all genres, from classics to pop. Founded in 1970 as Tuscaloosa Community Singers, Prentice Concert Chorale has been and is actively engaged in the local Tuscaloosa and West Alabama communities. Beyond its Tuscaloosa home, Prentice Chorale has recently performed in Demopolis and this past season presented free concerts in Greensboro and Brent. Prentice Chorale’s most recent events include invited performances at the 2013 Alabama Choral Director’s Summer Celebration Workshop and at the gala opening of the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center. A full dinner theatre was presented in three performances in the spring of 2014 and included early 20th –century American music including barbershop, Dixieland, and jazz, accompanied by a Dixieland instrumental ensemble.

Quick Facts:

What: The Prentice Concert Chorale presents “Thankfulness”

When: Thursday, November 13, 7:00 PM

Where: Covenant Presbyterian Church, 113 Hargrove Road, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

Tickets: $10 for adults, $5 for students. Tickets will be available at the door

More: 205-765-4127 and www.prenticeconcertchorale.com