The Bagaduce Chorale was formed in the spring of 1974, for the joy of those who love to sing good music together. If in the process of taking pleasure ourselves, we bring some joy to others, then truly, "our cup runneth over"!
The Bagaduce Chorale is made up of 90-plus auditioned singers from the Blue Hill Peninsula and surrounding communities, including Deer Isle/Stonington, Castine, Orland, Surry, Ellsworth, Lamoine, and Bar Harbor. The Bagaduce Chorale performs twice a year, in early December and in late April/early May, accompanied by piano, organ or a small instrumental ensemble.
This winter the Bagaduce Chorale will present a decadent tour de force of contemporary seasonal works, starting with Jonathan Willcocks’ Magnificat.
“The Magnificat is bright and bold and full of joy, featuring the full chorus, brass and percussion. It’s a very exciting work!” says Bronwyn Kortge, director of the Bagaduce Chorale. “The Chorale performed this work six years ago. I think about how much I have evolved as a director in those years, and how much the Chorale has evolved as an ensemble, and I want another go at it!”
Jonathan Willcocks is the son of the great British choral composer and conductor Sir David Willcocks, and has earned hisown place alongside his father and otherBritish composers of distinction, including John Rutter.
The text of the Magnificat is one of a handful of the most ancient Christian hymns. It is distilled from a collection of early Jewish-Christian canticles, and is celebrated in Luke’s Gospel. With the opening lyrics “My soul doth magnify the lord,” it is the Virgin Mary’s song of praise.
“Willcocks’ setting is five movements of glory; I feel he perfectly captures an exultation and exhuberance as well as a quiet awe and wonder at such a miraculous story.”
The Chorale will also be performing American composer Stephen Paulus’ We Sing Thy Birth. “Stephen Paulus is one of my favorite contemporary composers and this work was commissioned in 2001 by one of my favorite conductors, Brady Allred!” according to Bronwyn, who has programmed smaller works by Paulus in several recent Bagaduce Chorale concerts. “I’m very excited for the Chorale to present this new work.”
Also scored for brass and organ, the three movement work uses texts by William Shakespeare, John Milton and William Dunbar. Paulus brings out a broad range of color from the instrumentation. “His setting is so sophisticated. He asks the brass to be not only bright but also warm and rich, and even sometimes deep and dark, perfectly coloring the texts he has chosen to set,” muses Bronwyn.
“However, one of my favorite things about this score is the way the organ plays with the brass and the chorus, almost braiding together the three textures as equal forces. It’s a good thing we’ve got such a pro at the organ! We’re going to need her!” smiles Bronwyn, referring to Mary Cheyney Gould, the Chorale’s director emerita and accompanist, who will be retiring at the end of the Chorale’s 2013-2014 season.
“I think of the music I’ve programmed this fall as ‘bright work,’” Bronwyn reflects, “probably because of all the nice bright brassiness. Passionate sailors will know that brightwork is all the highly polished metal, usually brass or bronze on a sailboat, and perhaps this is a small nod to a joy of sailing that Mary and so many of us share. But mostly I think of this as an acknowledgement of the gift of music and joy that Mary has given to the members of the Chorale and to me. She is our bright work!”