The St. Charles Singers, led by founder Jeffrey Hunt, will present two distinctly different programs of sacred music at its March and June 2023 concerts, which conclude the celebrated chamber choir’s 39th season. Each program will be heard in Wheaton and St. Charles, Illinois.
“The sound of medieval chant will reverberate through our ‘Echoes of Splendor’ concerts in March,” Hunt says. “It’s a musical thread connecting the sacred works we’ve chosen from the Middle Ages through the 21st century. All but one, Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem, were composed by women.”
The choir’s season finale program in June, “Canta, Alma Mia” (Sing, My Soul), comprises a cappella religious works from America and Europe. The choices were inspired, Hunt says, by the settings and acoustics of the historic churches in Spain and Portugal where the St. Charles Singers will tour the program shortly after the Chicago-area performances.
‘Enchanting’ winter concerts
The St. Charles Singers’ winter “Echoes of Splendor” program will open with Fauré’s Requiem in D Minor, Op. 48, “a remarkable work of great serenity and beauty,” Hunt says.
The St. Charles Singers, accompanied by the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra, will perform the version for soloists, mixed-voice choir, organ, and instrumental chamber ensemble, edited by English composer and choirmaster John Rutter.
Chant-like elements include repeated notes sung by the baritone soloist in the Offertoire section.
The late French Romantic composer’s 30-minute work stands apart from other great Requiems, Hunt says, because of its “ethereal, sublime, and peaceful character.”
Archetypal sounds of medieval chant will also echo through the second half of the program, which features 20th and 21st century works by female composers Lili Boulanger, Nancy Grundahl, Jocelyn Hagen, Cecilia McDowall, Alice Parker, and Elaine Hagenberg, plus two pieces by Hildegard von Bingen, German medieval mystic, abbess, and saint.
Grundahl and Hagen composed modern takes on the von Bingen works, and their versions will be paired in concert with von Bingen’s originals.
“It will be enchanting,” Hunt says.
Boulanger’s intimate “Pie Jesu” (Pious Jesus), scored for mezzo-soprano, string quartet, harp, and organ, will be sung by St. Charles Singers ensemble artist Margaret Fox. Hunt describes it as “an amazing piece, full of mystery, passion, and depth.”
The program will be heard at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at St. Michael Catholic Church, 310 S. Wheaton Avenue, Wheaton, Illinois; and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 5, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Avenue, St. Charles, Illinois.
Inspirational music blossoms on spring program
The St. Charles Singers’ spring “Canta, Alma Mia” (Sing, My Soul) program of sacred a cappella works offers listeners a preview of what the choir will sing on its mid-June concert tour of historic churches in Spain and Portugal.
Audiences will hear 17 works from the Renaissance to today, including Spanish Renaissance master Tomás Luis de Victoria’s “O quam gloriosum” (O, how glorious), Scotsman James MacMillan’s “Miserere” (Have mercy), and British composer Herbert Howells’ “Regina Caeli” (Queen of Heaven).
Music from the US comprises works by the colonial era’s William Billings, widely considered the country’s first choral composer, and a host of 20th and 21st century names, including luminaries Samuel Barber, Charles Ives, Morten Lauridsen, Ned Rorem, Jake Runestad, Alice Parker, and Eric Whitacre, among others.
Concerts are at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3, 2023, at St. Michael Catholic Church in Wheaton, and 3 p.m. Sunday, June 4, 2023, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church in St. Charles.
Tickets and information
Single-admission tickets to the St. Charles Singers’ March and June concerts are $40 for adults, $35 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students. Group discounts are available.
Tickets and information are available at 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.