Engel and Roth Raise Voices in Song

Dana Engel, fifth from right, and Amy Roth, both of South Burlington, are members of the Burlington Choral Society, which will perform on Nov. 17 at the College Street Congregational Church.

The Burlington Choral Society invites music lovers to their Birthday Odes concert on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. at the College Street Congregational Church in Burlington. Among the 66 voices performing are longtime chorus members and South Burlington residents Dana Engel and Amy Roth.

The November concert honors the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein by featuring his best-known choral composition, “Chichester Psalms.” A set of six psalms, BCS describes the music as moving “from majestic to boisterous to peacefully tender.”

Musicians around the world are performing Bernstein’s works over the two-year period that spans his August 2018 birthday. “Chichester Psalms” ends with the words “Hineh mah tov / Umah naim / Shevet ahim / Gam yahad,” which translates to “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.”

Roth, who is marking her 20th year with the BCS, called the composition “a beautiful piece to share with Vermont music lovers of all stripes. The work has particular resonance for me as a native New Yorker and lifelong Bernstein admirer.”

“I’m excited to be doing such a jazzy piece as the Bernstein,” Engel added. “It sends you rocketing out of your seat.”

BSC artistic director, Richard Riley, will conduct Birthday Odes, which features guest soloists Mary Bonhag, soprano; Eric Jurenas, countertenor; and Andrew Padgett, bass. Featured instrumentalists include organist Jennifer Bower, harpist Grace Cloutier, percussionist Nicola Cannizzaro, and the Burlington Birthday Orchestra, which is comprised of local professionals who, when performing with the BCS, acquire a name reflecting the theme of each concert.

Birthday Odes also features musical gifts written for two English royals: Henry Purcell’s “Ode for the Birthday of Queen Mary” from 1694 and George Friedrich Handel’s “Ode for the Birthday of Queen Anne” from 1713. The opening solo of the Handel ode, “Eternal Source of Light Divine,” was heard by millions earlier this year at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s royal wedding.

“These festive tributes will take our audience back to a time when composers and choruses really knew how to throw the monarch and her court a birthday party,” say Riley says.

For more information and tickets, visit www.flynntix.org.

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