St. Charles Singers' 2019-20 season to open with Mozart Festival Aug. 22-25
Professional chamber choir St. Charles Singers, conducted by Jeffrey Hunt, will open its 2019-20 concert season with a Mozart Festival, Aug. 22--25, in its hometown of St. Charles, with an array of paid and free events celebrating the music of the ever-popular Classical-era composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
"Our Mozart Festival is designed as a late-summer oasis for classical music lovers and a chance for everyone to bask in Mozart's melodies," Hunt says.
The festival will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 22, with a dress rehearsal for the "Mozart Journey XV" concert program, performed by the choir and Metropolis Chamber Orchestra. The rehearsal, which is free and open to the public, will take place in the concert venue, Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave. in St. Charles. No reservations are required.
During rehearsal breaks, choirmaster Hunt will discuss concert preparations.
"This is designed to be an enlightening, behind-the-scenes experience for all choral-music lovers and anyone curious about choral singing at the highest professional level," Hunt says.
The festival's centerpiece will be the "Mozart Journey XV" concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, and 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, at Baker Church.
It's the 15th and newest program in the choir and orchestra's multi-season initiative, launched in 2010, to perform Mozart's complete genre of sacred choral music.
"Many listeners find this music as exquisite as Mozart's symphonic, operatic and chamber works, but these compositions are, for the most part, less well-known and some are rarely, if ever, heard," Hunt says.
The program includes the three-movement offertory "Benedictus sit Deus," K. 117, which was played at the world premiere of Mozart's "Domincus" Mass in C Major K. 66, which is also on the concert program; and the German passion aria "Kommet her, ihr frechen Sunder" in B-flat Major, K. 146.
The "Dominicus" Mass is lavishly scored for soprano, alto, tenor and bass soloists; four-part choir; winds; brass; strings; organ; and percussion.
Audiences will also hear fragments of Mozart's uncompleted sacred choral works, including the Kyrie in C Major, K. 323.
"These unfinished pieces open a window into Mozart's creative process," Hunt says.
A preconcert lecture will be offered one hour before each "Mozart Journey XV" performance.
Forty St. Charles Singers ensemble members will perform in "Mozart Journey XV."
Sopranos are Jeanne Fornari, Batavia; Marybeth Kurnat, DeKalb; Brittany Anderson, Elgin; Laura Johnson, Hanover Park; Jennifer Gingrich and Meredith Taylor Du Bon, both of Naperville; Megan Bell, Ingrid Burrichter, AnDréa James, and Jessica Palmisano, all of St. Charles; and Karen Lukose, Winfield.
The alto section includes Sarah Underhill, Aurora; Margaret Fox, Batavia; Nicole Tolentino, Carol Stream; Allison Deady, Chicago; Mary Kunstman, Elburn; Julie Popplewell and Chelsea King, both of North Aurora; Bridget Kancler, Oak Park; Karen Archbold, Wheaton; and Debra Wilder, Wheeling.
The tenors are Rob Campbell, DeKalb; Bryan Kunstman and Bradley Staker, both of Elburn; Michael Popplewell and Gregor King, both of North Aurora; Christopher Jackson, Rolling Meadows; Aaron James, St. Charles; David Hunt, Wayne; and Steve Williamson, West Chicago.
The bass section comprises Jess Koehn, Phil Nohl, and Michael Thoms, all of Aurora; Brandon Fox, Batavia; Antonio Quaranta, Carol Stream; Douglas Peters, Chicago; Nate Coon, Crystal Lake; David Hartley, Lake in the Hills; Drayton Eggleson, Sycamore; and Andrew Barrett, Willowbrook.
Single tickets to the "Mozart Journey XV" concerts are $40 adult general admission, $35 seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.
Mozart Festival event tickets and general information are available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling (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.
'Yoga to Mozart'
St. Charles Singers soprano Meredith Taylor DuBon, a licensed yoga instructor, will lead a free, outdoor "Yoga to Mozart" session at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, on First Street Plaza, 29 S. First St. in St. Charles. Recordings of Mozart's music will provide a sonic backdrop for the yoga workout, suitable for all skill levels.
'Mozart Garden Party'
The St. Charles Singers will stage a "Midday Mozart Garden Party and Brunch" from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the historic Hotel Baker, 100 W. Main St. in St. Charles.
The Metropolis Chamber Ensemble will open the program with instrumental music of Mozart and two composers he admired: Joseph Michael Haydn, younger brother of the famed Franz Joseph Haydn, and Johann Christian Bach, the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach. Works will include Mozart's Quartet in D Major for flute and strings, K. 285; J.M. Haydn's Divertimento in C Major, P. 115, for English horn, violin, cello and double bass; J.C. Bach's Quintet in D Major, Op. 11, No. 6, and other pieces.
Following the concert will be a luncheon and conversation with choirmaster Hunt.
The event concludes with intimate performances by the St. Charles Singers Choral Ensemble, featuring choir members in solos, duets, and other small groupings.
Performers are sopranos Marybeth Kurnat of DeKalb and AnDréa James of St. Charles; alto Debra Wilder of Wheeling; tenors Michael Popplewell of North Aurora and Christopher Jackson of Rolling Meadows; and bass Jess Koehn of Aurora. Piano accompanist is Michael Giuliani of Plainfield.
Tickets, which include lunch, are $75 per person.
Founded and directed by Jeffrey Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a professional chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The mixed-voice ensemble includes professional singers, choral directors, and voice instructors, some of whom perform with other top-tier Chicago choirs. ClassicsToday.com has called the ensemble "one of North America's outstanding choirs," citing "charisma and top-notch musicianship" that "bring character and excitement to each piece." The Chicago Tribune has described the St. Charles Singers as "splendidly disciplined, beautifully responsive" and proclaimed, "Chamber chorus singing doesn't get much better than this." Among the St. Charles Singers' prominent guest conductors have been English composer John Rutter, founder of the Cambridge Singers; Philip Moore, composer and former music director at England's York Minster cathedral; and Grammy Award-winning American choir director Craig Hella Johnson. The choir launched in St. Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers.