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posted: 9/30/2013 2:11 PM

St. Charles Singers shine with 'Luminescence' concert

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  • The St. Charles Singers will launch its 30th season this weekend with a concert titled "Luminescence." Performances are set for Saturday, Oct. 5 in St. Charles and Sunday, Oct. 6 in Wheaton.

      The St. Charles Singers will launch its 30th season this weekend with a concert titled "Luminescence." Performances are set for Saturday, Oct. 5 in St. Charles and Sunday, Oct. 6 in Wheaton.
    Courtesy of St. Charles Singers

  • The St. Charles Singers, directed by Jeffrey Hunt of St. Charles, is celebrating its 30th season.

      The St. Charles Singers, directed by Jeffrey Hunt of St. Charles, is celebrating its 30th season.
    Courtesy of St. Charles Singers

  • Members of the St. Charles Singers audition for their positions and are compensated for rehearsals and concerts.

      Members of the St. Charles Singers audition for their positions and are compensated for rehearsals and concerts.
    Courtesy of St. Charles Singers

  • The St. Charles Singers is made up of 45 singers, 35 of whom are scheduled to sing in "Luminescence."

      The St. Charles Singers is made up of 45 singers, 35 of whom are scheduled to sing in "Luminescence."
    Courtesy of St. Charles Singers

 
St. Charles Singers

The St. Charles Singers will shine some light on the works of Mozart and other composers when it opens the season with "Luminescence," a concert set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in St. Charles and 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, in Wheaton.

The concert will be performed with the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra Saturday at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles; and Sunday at St. Michael Catholic Church, 310 S. Wheaton Ave., Wheaton.

Single tickets are $40 for adults, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.

"Luminescence" will spotlight three choral works by Mozart, plus a group of motets by other composers on the theme of light, showing off the radiant sound for which the St. Charles Singers is known, said founder and director Jeffrey Hunt of St. Charles.

All of the music is new to the St. Charles Singers' repertoire.

The Mozart portion of the program includes the Hosanna, K. 223; Missa brevis, K. 65; and Solemn Vespers, K. 339.

Guest artist is the Men's Schola Choir from St. Vincent de Paul, Chicago, directed by Robert Beatty. The Schola will chant verses, called antiphons, before each of the Psalm movements of the Vespers.

The Mozart works represent the seventh and latest step in the professional chamber choir's progression through the composer's complete sacred choral works with the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra. This particular concert, however, is not billed as a "Mozart Journey" installment because of the inclusion of other composers.

Luminescent a cappella works will include the following motets: James MacMillan's "O Radiant Dawn"; Morten Lauridsen's "O Nata Lux" ("Born of Light"); Jake Runestad's "I will lift mine eyes"; Willam Harris's "Bring us, O Lord God"; and Charles Wood's "Hail Gladdening Light."

Celebrating 30 years

A professional chamber choir founded and conducted by Jeffrey Hunt of St. Charles, the St. Charles Singers debuted in 1984 as the 14-member Mostly Madrigal Singers, made up of Hunt's musically talented friends and family members from the far western suburbs and elsewhere in the Chicago area.

Its first public performance, on Dec. 19, 1984, in the Rainbow Room of the Hotel Baker in downtown St. Charles, was held as a benefit for the local Salvation Army. The concert of Christmas music raised $400 for the charity, Hunt recently recalled in telephone interview.

Today, the St. Charles Singers is an acclaimed choir of 45 voices, all of whom audition for their positions and are compensated for rehearsals and concerts.

Over the decades, the choir has performed with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra at the Ravinia Festival and with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, with whom it recorded a CD for the Naxos label. It has embarked on three European tours. The choir has sung live on Chicago's WFMT-FM and was the subject of a profile on WTTW-TV.

Notably, it has earned the respect of British composer and chorus master John Rutter, a choral music superstar of the English-speaking world, who has flown to the U.S. on several occasions to guest-conduct the St. Charles Singers in the western suburbs and Chicago -- and will do so again in May for the St. Charles Singers' season-finale concerts.

Hunt says that if someone had predicted in 1984 that the ensemble would be concertizing with Rutter in the far western suburbs and also on Chicago's North Michigan Avenue, "I probably wouldn't have believed them. At the time, my only goal was to keep it going for as long as everyone was enjoying themselves."

The St. Charles Singers is also in the midst of its Mozart Journey, a multiyear initiative launched in 2010 that's providing audiences with the rare opportunity to hear all of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's sacred choral music.

The 2013-14 season concerts will reflect the ensemble's enthusiasm for Mozart, while celebrating its history and displaying its special strengths and signature sound, Hunt says.

Since its inception, the choir has sung more than 700 different works, Hunt says.

Despite that vast repertoire, its 30th anniversary concerts will include many pieces the choir has never sung before rather than relying on a "greatest hits" approach.

"We'll be looking ahead more than we'll be looking back," Hunt says. "I expect we'll be making music for at least another 30 years."

Upcoming performances

Additional concerts scheduled for the season include "Candlelight Carols: Carols and Anthems of the Season," Dec. 6-8 in Chicago and St. Charles; "Mozart for the Masses," Jan. 25-26 in Chicago and St. Charles; and "Bouquet of Voices," May 29-30 in Chicago and Wheaton.

Tickets

For tickets or details, visit www.stcharlessingers.com or call (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this ticket venue).

Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.

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