It's not often that a subscriber can go from the baroque to Broadway with the same musical organization in the same concert season, but that's what J. Ernest Green's Annapolis Chorale has in store for its listeners in 1999-2000.
With eight programs spread across three series of concerts, the chorale solidifies its place as one of the most eclectic, innovative ensembles around.
Choral masterworks dot the season, beginning Dec. 18, when director Green's forces present the Christmas portion of George Frideric Handel's ever-popular oratorio, "Messiah."
On March 18, the chorale unearths a little-known work of Johann Sebastian Bach, the "Passion According to St. Mark."
Green is undertaking the musicological research necessary to craft a performance version of the piece which, unlike Bach's Passions of St. Matthew and St. John, did not survive the composer's lifetime in complete form.
"We know that Bach reused parts of the 'St. Mark' in some of his cantatas, and there are fragmentary recitatives that also appear elsewhere," Green said. "So it's a matter of pasting together a version that works. Ultimately, we may present just the sections we know he wrote and leave out the question marks. But, whichever way we go, it's unbelievable music."
In April, the chorale will conclude its season with its first-ever performance of one of the grandest staples of the choral repertoire, Franz Joseph Haydn's "The Creation." A musical setting of the book of Genesis (with help from poet John Milton), "The Creation" ("Die Schopfung," in German) was the first piece ever published with a bilingual text.
The chorale will perform it in English, though it became an enormous hit not only in Haydn's adopted London, but also in his native Austria. With choruses like "The Heavens Are Telling" and sublime arias such as "With Verdure Clad," in which the solo soprano warmly recounts God's greening of the world, "The Creation" truly is one of the jewels in the choral crown.
A fascinating new work appears on the chorale's agenda in November -- Richard Einhorn's "Voices of Light." It is a luminous composition written in the 1990s to accompany the 1922 silent film "The Passion of Joan of Arc." The chorus and chamber orchestra will perform the work in its original context, as the Maryland Hall audience watches the film.
The pops concerts have become some of the hottest tickets in town in recent years, and this season should prove no exception.
Following up on the success of last season's concert presentation of "Guys and Dolls," the ensemble performs Lerner and Loewe's "Brigadoon" in February at Maryland Hall.
Annapolis Chorale and Chamber Orchestra 1999-2000 Season
Classics Series at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
Nov. 13, 8 p.m.: Richard Einhorn: "Voices of Light."
April 29, 8 p.m.: Franz Joseph Haydn: "The Creation."
Baroque Favorites Series at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Annapolis
Oct. 16, 8 p.m.: "Baroque Favorites"; Pachelbel: "Canon in D"; Albinoni: Adagio; Bach: "Brandenburg Concerto No. 4"; Vivaldi: "The Four Seasons"
Dec. 18, 8 p.m., and Dec. 19, 3 p.m.: George Frideric Handel: "Messiah" (Christmas Portion)
March 18, 8 p.m.: Bach: "The Passion According to St. Mark."
"Pops" Series at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts
Sept. 18, 8 p.m.: "In the Mood: A Celebration of Swing."
Dec. 10, 8 p.m.: "A Celebration of Christmas."
Feb. 11 and 12, 8 p.m.: Lerner and Loewe: "Brigadoon" (concert performance).