The Verdi Chorus Presents First Online Chorus
Presentation of "The Force of Destiny"
April 30, 2020
Due to popular demand, the Verdi Chorus is extending its first online concert, a streaming of its Spring 2018 program The Force of Destiny led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, through April 27. The online concert was presented in place of the originally scheduled Verdi Chorus Live Concert on April 18 and 19 and is available on the Verdi Chorus website at https://www.verdichorus.org
Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum says, "It meant so much on a personal level to make this online concert happen, but I had no idea what the impact of seeing the concert in this way would have on me. Watching this as a member of the audience made me even more aware of what is so special about the Verdi Chorus, and the power of sharing this music with the world during this difficult time. In the few days since we launched the video stream, I've realized I'm not alone in feeling this way. People who have seen it now want to share it with their family and friends, from the West to the East Coast, and even overseas. It is in this spirit we can now share the music of the Verdi Chorus with an even larger audience."
As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus, the concert features selections from three Verdi operas – La forza del destino, Nabucco, and the opening party scene of La Traviata - and concludes with beloved melodies from Strauss' Die Fledermaus.
The program features four guest soloists: 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.
How to watch:
The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals that take place every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 50 singers gather together from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes singers from 22 to 80 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They in turn are joined by opera stars at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
Raising their voices together they become the lively entourage of renowned courtesan Violetta Valéry, the unruly crowd found inside the inn at Hornachuelos one fateful night, the weary but fiercely impassioned chorus of Hebrew slaves, and finally, the joyful guests of Prince Orlofsky in turn of the century Vienna.
Further demonstrating the organization's mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, fifteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Known as the Fox Singers, named in memory of long-time Chorus and Board member Walter Fox, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. The Fox Singers, who also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus and serve 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.
The Chorus is also 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. Sahm Foundation Apprentices for this session, named in honor of a generous grant from the Sahm Family Foundation, are sopranos Krista Schaeffer and Sarah Shields, mezzo Bianca Gutierrez, tenor Joshua Burke, and basses Benjamin Finer and David Peterson. 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.
Music Director and Founding Artistic Director ANNE MARIE KETCHUM has been the conductor of the Verdi Chorus since its inception in 1983. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Choral Conducting and a Master's degree in Voice Performance from California State University, Northridge, where she studied choral conducting with John Alexander and served as his assistant conductor. As a singer, she has appeared internationally and is well known for her performances of contemporary art music, vocal chamber music, solo recitals, and opera. She has made several recordings of contemporary music. Among her more recent activities Ms. Ketchum was the Stage Director for the Metropolitan Opera National Council – Western Region Showcase Concerts in Palm Springs for five years. She helped create This and My Heart: A Portrait of Emily Dickinson in Text and Song, a concert/theater piece which she co-wrote and performed with actress Linda Kelsey and pianist Victoria Kirsch. This was presented as part of Grand Performances in Los Angeles and made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Affairs Department of Los Angeles. In February of 2012, she premiered a piece in New York by Aurelio de la Vega entitled Recordatio for soprano and ten instruments, which was written for her.
Accompanist LARAINE ANN MADDEN has garnered acclaim as one of the most sensitive and experienced collaborating artists in the Los Angeles area. Trained in the Bay Area, she made her solo debut with the Oakland Symphony at age 13 performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488. Ms. Madden studied Accompanying at the University of Southern California with its pioneer teacher, Gwendolyn Koldofsky and has accompanied in the master classes of Martin Katz, Geoffrey Parsons, Giorgio Tozzi, Martial Singher, Joan Dornemann and Peter Pears. She has served as "repetiteur" accompanist under conductors Simon Rattle, Christoph Perrick and Richard Buckley, and has appeared in concert with singers associated with New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and Los Angeles Opera including Alan Titus, Rod Gilfry, Erie Mills, Young Mi Kim and Ealynn Voss. Recent engagements include performing on the Jacaranda Concert Series and with the Walter Fox Singers at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, the Huntington Library in Pasadena, and the Richard Nixon Library for the Marshall B. Ketchum University Shared Visions Gala. This is her twentieth year as collaborator with the Verdi Chorus.
For information on the four soloists, please click on the links below:
Soprano SHANA BLAKE HILL: http://shanablakehill.com
Mezzo KAREN MUSHEGAIN: https://www.karinmushegain.com
Tenor ALEX BOYER: https://www.voxartists.com/alex-boyer-tenor
Baritone BEN LOWE: https://www.benlowebaritone.com/bio-1
About The Verdi Chorus
The Verdi Chorus is a Southern California nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting opera choruses in concert and to providing career development opportunities for young professional singers. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music of the opera chorus, the Verdi Chorus gives talented amateur singers the unique opportunity to sing side-by-side with professional singers in rehearsals leading up to performances held to the highest artistic standards. Under the direction of its remarkable Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.
The Verdi Chorus was founded in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica. When the restaurant closed in 1991, the Verdi Chorus continued. In 1999, the chorus incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Under the continuous direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the chorus presents four concerts each year as well as other collaborative events. Its repertoire includes over 300 choruses from 81 operas in seven languages.
For more information visit: http://www.verdichorus.org