Culver City Observer -

By Steven Lieberman
Observer Reporter 

"The Force of Destiny " Performed by Verdi Chorus

 

April 19, 2018



The Verdi Chorus celebrates its 35th anniversary season with their Spring 2018 concerts entitled “The Force of Destiny” at the acoustically-sound First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on April 28 and 29.

A jewel of the opera scene, they are the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus.

Their Founding Artistic Director/Conductor Anne Marie Ketchum and Julliard-trained piano accompanist Laraine Ann Madden have fashioned a program with choral numbers and arias that will feature selections from Verdi’s La forza del destino, Nabucco, including the famed chorus “Va, pensiero,” the opening party scene of La traviata, and conclude with beloved melodies from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

Four gifted internationally-known soloists will be appearing: fan-favorite soprano Shana Blake Hill, hailed by Opera News for her “flood of glorious sound,” mezzo-soprano Karin Mushegain called “superb” by The New York Times, tenor Alex Boyer, celebrated in The San Francisco Chronicle for his “grit and vocal power,” and baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand and who recently made his New York debut at BAM in Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing.

I am so excited to be honoring the 35th season of the Verdi Chorus and to celebrate our thirty-five years of music making, Ketchum said. "The literal translation of Verdi’s La forza del destino is “The Force of Destiny” and this could not be more apt in relation to the ongoing longevity of the Verdi Chorus. When the Chorus was launched in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica, there was just no way of knowing what we would grow into as a performing arts organization. We’ve not only outlived the restaurant where it all began and where we first started presenting opera choruses in concert, we have also become a force in the L.A. classical music community and are proud to be able to provide career development opportunities for young professional singers.

I am particularly pleased to have four exciting soloists for this benchmark event. It is only appropriate to be surrounded by dear friends on the occasion of an anniversary, and Shana Blake Hill is not only a dear friend who has joined us as a guest soloist before, she is one of the most expressive singers I know. I’ve nicknamed her “Cords of Steel” as her voice is capable of doing anything! This will be the first time Karin Mushegain and Alex Boyer are appearing with the Verdi Chorus, and I am so impressed with their vast talents and so honored to have them join us. And it is an absolute joy to welcome Ben Lowe back to the Verdi Chorus after the thrilling dramatic and comic arias he wowed our audiences with last Fall. I can’t think of a more exciting way to usher in our next 35 years!”

The Chorus is proud to continue with the Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert. Participants in the program for this session are soprano Natalia Ferreiro, alto Emma Berggren and tenor Taj Jegaraj. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies. Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions.

Further demonstrating the organization’s mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, fourteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Also known as the Walter Fox Singers, named in memory of a long-time Chorus and Board member, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. They also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for the Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, The Broad Stage, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.

Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10. Tickets are available for purchase through the link on their website’s homepage at http://www.verdichorus.org or by calling (800) 838-3006. Concerts are at 7:30pm on Saturday, April 28 and 2 pm on Sunday, November 29.

 

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