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Isaac Harris Cary Memorial Building

1605 Massachusetts Avenue

Lexington, MA 02420

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“America in Harmony” Set to Sparkle in Lexington

To celebrate its first 25 years and inaugurate its next 25, the Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus will present “America in Harmony” on June 3 in Lexington’s renowned Cary Hall, featuring the world première of Pulitzer Prize winning composer Lewis Spratlan’s “New England Concordance.” The chorus is under the direction of Tom Berryman.

Adding to this collection of music emphasizing American thought and sound is a lighter touch in “A Cask of Porter: a Medley of Songs by Cole Porter,” arranged by Clifton J. Noble and commissioned by the Boston Saengerfest Men’s Chorus Next 25 Fund in honor of S. Melvin Rines.

Berryman will also lead the Chorus in two works by Randall Thompson, “The God Who Gave Us Life,” from his pointed 1943 work, The Testament of Freedom, and ”Choose Something Like A Star” from his 1959 setting of seven of Robert Frost’s poems, Frostiana.

Seeking to capture some basic American themes in his commissioned work, Spratlan set for male voices and piano two 19th Century American poems. Both works embody themes fostered by thinkers like Emerson, Thoreau, Channing, and Alcott, now familiar underpinnings of our American identity. Spratlan notes that Alcott’s "Thoreau's Flute" is a “touching celebration of the great transcendentalist, with emphasis on his constancy in our culture and his joy in nature.” Stennetts "New Jordan," from The Sacred Harp hymn collection, “echoes [Alcott’s work] by opening on a riverbank, gazing beyond, and contemplating nature's bounty” as well as capturing that period’s religious austerity.

Adding to the evening’s luster is a special anniversary appearance by soprano Ute Gfrerer, best known for her musical theater and concert stage performances in the US and Europe, especially of Kurt Weill’s works, and by an original piano work played by the Chorus’s assistant Director, Brendon Shapiro. Songs from Saengerfest’s own a cappella group, Sound Investment, and Paul Bateman’s arrangement of the Spiritual “Down by the Riverside” will round out the evening of America’s songs and stories.

* * * * *

Lewis Spratlan is a prolific composer of operatic, chamber works, solo music, choral music and film music. Spratlan is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and NEA fellowships; an American Academy of Arts and Letters composer award; and the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his opera Life is a Dream, premièred by the Santa Fe Opera in 2010. He lives in Amherst, MA.

Clifton J. Noble, Jr. is a composer, arranger and pianist based in Western Massachusetts. Since 1987, he has served as pianist for Smith College choral ensembles, and currently holds the position of Staff Accompanist in the Smith Music Department. He has produced original works and arrangements for a broad range of vocal and instrumental ensembles and soloists, and his music has been performed by acclaimed artists throughout the United States and internationally. A Cask of Porter is Clifton J. Noble, Jr.’s fourth commission for the Saengerfest.

Randall Thompson’s New England credentials come from his years on the faculties of Harvard and Wellesley Colleges, Cole Porter’s from his early years at Worcester Academy and Yale plus his many summers in Williamstown. Known for his facile and witty lyrics, Porter’s first anthologized work was his 1909 Yale song with the intellectually tantalizing lyrics, “Bingo, bingo, bingo, that’s the lingo.” Austrian-born Ute Gfrerer has lived for the past decade in Nahant.


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Isaac Harris Cary Memorial Building

1605 Massachusetts Avenue

Lexington, MA 02420

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