By Craig Combs, Ph.D. artistic director, PMPM
As a musician in today’s on-the-go society, I love taking the time to be present and attend live musical performances — especially when it’s of intimate nature presented in small settings. The opportunity to have immediate contact with musicians’ emotions and hard work — to clearly see them read their music, to hear the intensity of their breathing with the phrase — it feels authentic. This experience is a big part of what chamber music is all about.
In the 18th century, chamber music was defined very specifically to mean music written for small numbers of string instruments and in the 19th century, piano and winds were added to the mix. However, as cultural fashions shift, so do our definitions. The 21st century definition of chamber music is generally accepted as some variation of “2 – 10 instruments without a conductor.” That wide definition opens up the generally classical field to other forms like jazz, bluegrass, folk, and even world music. It’s a moving target.
At PMPM, we are committed to educating and enlightening the community, which includes commemorating our country’s musical beginnings. We are thrilled to continue our ongoing concert series that started in October of last year: American Voices. American Voices is a four concert series celebrating American composers as a way of acknowledging the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in 1620. Each concert will feature fabulous music provided by equally superb and talented musicians.
On Feb 29, Chamber Music for the Outer Cape returns to PMPM with the second performance in the American Voices series: “America Sings.” Here is what you can expect.
A preview of “American Sings”
“America Sings” will feature an unforgettable performance from renowned musicians.
The Outer Cape Chorale Chamber Singers
To kick off the evening, one of Cape Cod’s most beloved musical ensemble, the Outer Cape Chorale Chamber Singers, will perform “Magnificat,” written by German composer, Charles Theodore Pachelbel. The group of talented singers will be led by artistic director and soprano, Allison Beavan.
“Magnificat” is a Catholic liturgy called the Canticle of Mary and is often recited or sung during evening prayer services, or vespers. Many historical composers, including Bach, Mozart and Charles Theodore’s father — Johann Pachelbel — have set the canticle to music.
The centerpiece of the concert is baritone John Whittlesey singing “A Question of Light,” a song cycle by Jake Heggie and commissioned by the Dallas Opera, which includes poetry by Gene Scheer based on works of art at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Chamber Music for the Outer Cape was drawn to the message behind “A Question of Light,” as the piece nicely honors Provincetown’s storied and prolific art history.
John is a resident opera singer with the South Florida Symphony Orchestra, as well as founder and artistic director for Intermezzo: The New England Chamber Opera Series, which produced contemporary chamber operas during its twelve-year history.
For those who aren’t familiar with John, I encourage you to watch the following video of him singing “Old American Songs,” by Aaron Copland, where I am accompanying him on the piano:
Alisa Jordheim & Halcyone Hurst
The second half of the program will feature Alisa Jordheim, soprano with the New York Opera Society, and Halcyone Hurst, a native from Provincetown who returned to her home after singing and acting professionally in New York City and London. The two talented musicians will sing selections from the “Great American Songbook,” which draws influence from Tin Pan Alley, musical theatre and jazz. The “Great American Songbook” includes works by George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Cole Porter, Matt Dennis, Jeanine Tesori and Irving Berlin.
Alisa will wrap things up with Leonard Bernstein’s “Glitter and Be Gay” — always an audience favorite.
A history lesson: Charles Theodore Pachelbel’s place in American music
In addition to a great evening of music, attendees will also learn how Johann Pachelbel’s son, Charles Theodore, impacted American music. Charles Theodore was one of the first European composers to establish residency in the New World, moving to Boston in 1733 before settling in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent the rest of his life. Sadly, only a few of his works survived, but he left his mark on American music and is best known for the aria “God of sleep, for whom I languish.”
Don’t miss out!
We are very excited about the upcoming program and the breadth of its selection. It is sure to be an outstanding evening. “America Sings” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020 in the East Gallery of Provincetown Museum.
To purchase tickets, please click here.