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Volume 5, No. 4                 2017                                  April
2016-17 Schedule

Berlioz’s Te Deum and Poulenc’s Gloria

with Duke Chapel Choir,
NC Boys Choir and Riverside High School Chorus
Duke University Chapel
Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.
Duke Box Office
or at the door
Friends and Family Discount
Call the Duke Box Office at 919-684-4444 (M-F 11am-6pm) or visit Choral Society Tickets or mention the code at the Duke Box Office.
PROMO CODE for a discount: CSD1617
Shop & Share
with Ninth Street’s One World Market
There’s something for everyone at One World Market! Durham’s only non-profit Fair Trade store is teaming up with the Choral Society of Durham to benefit both organizations. Friday, May 5, come browse the marvelous selection of carefully crafted items to make your gift selections for upcoming graduations, Mother’s Day, birthdays and beyond.  You’ll find beautiful jewelry and accessories, delectable chocolate bars, shade-grown coffee, zesty condiments, tabletop goods, a variety of cookbooks, bowls and baskets, children’s toys, and much more. How will your purchase help us? A generous 10% of sales that day will be shared with CSD.  All sales, from doors opening at 10 am. until the 8 p.m. closing that evening, will be counted. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that your purchases will go towards supporting a sustainable source of fair pay that helps ensure a living wage for artisans in developing areas around the world.
Take a look at the possibilities: The store is located at 811 Ninth Street, near Duke’s East Campus. Don’t miss this opportunity to make a difference!
Our concerts are supported by the Durham Arts Council's Annual Arts Fund and the N.C. Arts Council, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
Durham Arts Council logo
North Carolina Arts Council logo
It is not too late to donate to CSD

When choosing which non-profit organization to support this year, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to the Choral Society of Durham. Ticket sales and member dues cover only one-third of our expenses, and we need you to help us continue to bring the very best in choral music to our community. Never doubt that it is your participation, your donation, that hires the finest soloists and instrumentalists, provides reduced price tickets to students and offers scholarships to singers who require financial aid. For more information, click here.

In 1855, Hector Berlioz wrote his pal Franz Liszt “to tell you that the Te Deum was performed today with the most magnificent precision. It was colossal, Babylonian, Ninevite! The children sang like a single artist; and the artists — My god if only you had been there! I can assure you itis a tremendous work, and . . . the Judex surpasses all the enormities I have previously committed. Yes, the Requiem has a brother, a brother who was born with teeth, like Richard III (but without the hump); and I can vouch that today he has bitten the public! There were 950 performers. And not one mistake!”
Nothing about Hector Berlioz was ordinary — neither his music nor his brilliant, passionate, volatile and, shall we say, ever so slightly unhinged mind. His love affairs were emotional tsunamis, and his music set the standard for massive. Yes, you read the above number right: the original score for his gargantuan Te Deum calls for organ, an orchestra of 134, two choirs of 100 singers each, AND a third choir of 600 boys, “placed midway between organ and orchestra and representing the congregation.” And, oh yes, soloists.
You won’t be surprised to hear, then, that our big fat performance of the Te Deum next Sunday afternoon has been scaled down a tad. Still, it’ll be worth coming to Duke Chapel just to see how the Choral Society, Chapel Choir, NC Boys Choir, Riverside High School Chorus, orchestra, soloists, organ and all are accommodated in the space available.
Other accommodations of scale for this fabulous work won’t be so evident (we trust). To maximize the vocal horsepower, much of the chorus is working double time: just when one voice part in the complex two-choir score gets a chance to catch a much-deserved breath and let the others take the load for a while, Rodney has us instead leaping over to reinforce another part. This, friends, is not easy: the eyes tracking a different line, the voice reaching, at times, for a different, counter-intuitive octave, the brain feeling slightly fried . . .  But all in the most marvelous cause. It’s Berlioz, after all, which means it’s a glorious Mt. Everest of orchestral and choral writing, layered with tender, reverent lyricism. You’ll love it.
Paris in the ‘20s was one terrific place to be young and artistic: Proust and Picasso, Dali and Dada, Sartre and Satie, jazz clubs and Josephine Baker shaking things up at the Folies Bergère. One group of guys (well, five guys and a gal) who were hanging out in the cafes marinating in all that creative ferment dubbed themselves les Nouveaux Jeunes [the New Youth], but history remembers them as Les Six: Arthur Honegger, Darius Milhaud, Georges Auric, Louis Durey, Germaine Tailleferre, and Francis Poulenc.
Growing up with a devoutly religious father and an artistic, urbane mother, Poulenc was no stranger to diverse, sometimes competing influences. In Paris, he must have been happy as a pig in mud. Relative to his pals, however, he was not particularly experimental, musically speaking (though of course his heart belonged to Dada). In his notable and numerous songs, in keyboard music and chamber works, in opera and ballet scores (for Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, no less), he typically kept to more or less neo-Classical idioms, with occasional breakouts into jaunty music hall-style. In French music, he once observed, ‘somberness and good humor are not mutually exclusive. Our composers, too, write profound music, but when they do, it is leavened with that lightness of spirit without which life would be unendurable.’”
In later years, as he experienced a resurgence of Catholic faith, Poulenc turned out some absolutely gorgeous sacred music, notably the Stabat Mater and — oh, Hooray, we get to sing it again! — the Gloria, which is SUCH a joy to perform! The delicate winding down of the final movement, Qui Sedes ad Dexter Patris, is enough to stir faith in a turnip. But this is not to say that all of the Gloria is hushed and decorous, of course; Poulenc’s genial high spirits are never far away. With the Laudamus Te you can almost see those high-kicking ladies at the Folies, and the Domine Fili wouldn’t be out of place in a Broadway musical. One French critic nailed it right on the head: "In Poulenc there is something of the monk and something of the rascal.” Exactly!
Many and varied are the routes to a place on the risers with the Choral Society of Durham. But only one singer took the road over the Tennessee mountains from Oak Ridge National Laboratory accompanied by eight thousand mice. Yes, folks, in 2009 our current board president and organizational phenom, Darla Miller, pulled into town along with her stock in trade (literally) of mutant rodents. She (and the mice) set up headquarters at UNC, where she runs a core facility that furnishes genetic research material for a large consortium of research centers.
Let’s go back a few decades to Lancaster, NY, where 3-year-old Darla was already collecting frogs and other critters from the nearby creek, with a fascination that has never abated. She was so enamored of everything biology, she says, that she even married her high school biology teacher (though, she adds, not till after college). And her critter-centric career has taken her from SUNY Buffalo to the Roswell Park Cancer Institute to the Oak Ridge lab to UNC and a long stint as COO of the International Mammalian Genome Society.
So, how about Darla and music? There was children’s choir and clarinet lessons, then a high school production of Godspell, then a good choir at U. Buffalo, then an even better one at Oak Ridge (the “secret city” so isolated that it created its own chorus, symphony, and theater company from the formidable talent and education cloistered there). But Darla, who sings with both CSD and the Duke Chapel Choir, says she never had a choral director as good as Rodney. Singing with him, she says, is “so broadening . . . for Rodney, nothing’s good enough until it’s perfect.”
Now that she’s heading into her second year (oh goodie!) chairing our board, it’s easy to understand the success of her career path: she is THE most calmly helpful, detail-remembering, knotty-problem-unraveling, frazzled-colleague-soothing person imaginable. The first to offer a hand. The last to stop working. And did we mention that she cooks Sunday breakfast for the Duke Chapel Choir every week?? How does she manage all this responsibility and remain so serene? She just smiles — which she does a lot — because the answer’s so obvious: Choral singing, of course. Cheers to Darla, our Chorister of Note!
(photograph by Marc Banka)
If you weren’t there, you missed a wonderful party!  And we are so, so grateful to Choral Society friends old and new who gathered at Hotel 21c Museum Hotel on March 31 and made our first-ever gala fundraiser such a success! Wow, folks! THANKS! We ate terrific food, pampered ourselves at the open bar, grazed through the amazing array of silent auction items ringing the room, visited with old and new acquaintances, sang a little, watched a film of CSD singers cuttin’ up in ridiculous costume while serenading the gala guests . . . . AND we added a gratifying amount of money to our coffers! Hooray for you! Hooray for us!
Hooray, in fact, and a rousing round of applause especially for the creative and dedicated singers who conceived and carried out the event with amazing professionalism and weeks of unstinting work: Aaron McKethan, committee chair; Susan Parham (CSD’s peerless and peachy manager), Melissa Scharoun Lee, Leslie Fiddler, Darla Miller, Lenore Brown, Norm Loewenthal, Scott Hill, Andy Stewart, Julie Hamburg, Janet Boudreau . . . good grief, the list goes on.
You know what this means, don’t you? It worked so well and it was so much fun that, well . . . we’ll just have to make this the first of a succession of such events. And if you missed it the first time around, you surely won’t want to make that mistake again.

Choral Society of Durham  •  120 Morris Street  •  Durham, NC 27701

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