The Montpelier-based Onion River Chorus, well-known for its innovative programming, presents the premiere performances of "Raine Songs" by Burlington composer Don Jamison, and two gems from the baroque period by Georg Philipp Telemann and Jan Dismas Zelenka, on May 10 and 11.
Co-directed by Larry Gordon (Onion River Chorus's music director), and Richard Riley, the concerts will take place at First Baptist Church, 81 St. Paul's St. in Burlington on May 10 at 7:30 pm, and at the Unitarian Church of Montpelier, 130 Main St. in Montpelier on May 11 at 7:00 pm.
"Raine Songs" is a 25-minute composition for soprano solo, chorus, and five solo strings. Mary Bonhag, for whom the part was written, will be the soprano soloist. The talents of violinists Letitia Quante and Laura Markowitz, violist Paul Reynolds, cellist John Dunlop and double bassist Evan Premo were also in composer Don Jamison's mind as he put the finishing touches to the piece in late 2013. Riley will conduct.
Jamison sets nine poems by the British poet Kathleen Raine (1908-2003) with great insight into and affection for the arc and range of Raine's pantheistic poetic interests. The final section of Jamison's composition includes these words: “Oh love, my love, there springs a world, and on the world there shines a sun, and in the sun there burns a fire. Within the fire consumes my heart, and in my heart there beats a bird, and in the bird there wakes an eye..."
Don Jamison credits a 1998 invitation from the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival to write a set of pieces for Marshfield-based Village Harmony (Larry Gordon, director) as the catalyst to continuing adventures with singing. Jamison is one of the founders of Social Band, a chorus based in Burlington, and the Vermont Employee Ownership Center where he works. In addition to writing music for voices, Jamison has had works for orchestra performed by the Vermont Symphony and Burlington Chamber Orchestra. He is a true singer's composer with a marvelous facility for matching the rhythms and affect of his music to the rhythms and cadence of the poetry.
Onion River Chorus music director Larry Gordon has previously championed the distinctive choral works of Czech baroque composer Jan Dismas Zelenka. (So did J. S. Bach and Georg Philipp Telemann.) Zelenka's "Miserere" ("Have mercy upon me, O God") bears the composer's signature bold harmonic juxtapositions and exciting writing for voices. Telemann's "Singet dem Herrn" ("Sing to the Lord"), by contrast, is a sunny romp. Both works will be accompanied by the five strings, plus oboe in the Zelenka. Gordon will conduct both pieces and Bonhag will be the soprano soloist in the Zelenka.
Tickets available at the door: $12 adults, $8 for students and seniors. For information call (802) 476-4300