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Pacific Chorale, led by Artistic Director Robert Istad, presents transcendent works by contemporary composers

Grammy-nominated Pacific Chorale, considered one of the nation’s leading choirs, continues its season with a program of transcendent choral works by six contemporary composers anchored by Estonian composer Galina Grigorjeva’s profound vocal symphony On Leaving, a contemplation on the soul’s release from the mortal body, and Frank Martin’s stunning Mass for Double Choir, a masterful setting of the Latin Mass, on Saturday, March 19, 2022, 8:00 p.m., at Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Newport Beach. Led by Artistic Director Robert Istad, the program, entitled “Songs of the Soul,” also features Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s and the swallow, a setting of Psalm 84 inspired by the Syrian refugee crisis, and Spiritus Mundi, Dale Trumbore’s hymn of gratitude for the fruits of the earth, which she says, “explores the idea of trust in something greater than oneself.” Additionally, Pacific Chorale performs Paul Fowler’s wordless, hypnotic Calling and Edie Hill’s poignant We Bloomed in Spring, a setting of the words of St. Teresa of Avila.

“These six extraordinary choral works explore the concept of spirit from multiple perspectives,” says Istad. “For example, On Leaving by Grigorjeva, who has been hailed as the First Lady of Estonian Choral Music, is a gorgeous meditation on death and the afterlife that captures the mystery of the hereafter with neo-Gothic chant lines and enigmatic bells, revealing a modern approach to Slavonic chant that creates a kaleidoscope of sound rich with overtone. Swiss composer Frank Martin’s Mass for Double Chorus is a tour de force that balances his respect for the Mass with a proclivity for vocal fireworks.”

Each of the composers is celebrated for the transcendent quality of their work. Grigorjeva is described as “the mistress of cadential suspense, a modernist who respects the past” (Gramophone). Martin’s music is imbued with “beauty, mystery and power” and is noted for its “heartfelt sensitivity” (The New York Times). Shaw, who at age 30 became the youngest winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2013, creates music that “grows ever more mystic” (The New Yorker) and is “proof that classical music has an exciting future” (The Atlantic). Fowler integrates old and new into “emotionally intense” (Washington Post) works that are “radiant, ghostly and shimmering” (The New York Times). Hill’s music has been applauded as “flat out beautiful” and ”full of mystery” (Stereophile Magazine). Trumbore, considered “a rising star among modern choral composers” (AXS), creates “soaring melodies and beguiling harmonies” (The New York Times).

Pacific Chorale’s 2021-22 Season is made possible by generous support from Platinum Season Sponsor Phillip N. and Mary A. Lyons, Silver Season Sponsor Charles and Ling Zhang, and Silver Season Corporate Sponsor Salt-Away Products.

Single tickets for “Songs of the Soul” range from $20-$60. Our Lady Queen of Angels Catholic Church, 2100 Mar Vista Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660. Audience members must show proof of vaccination and wear masks inside the venue (COVID protocols detailed below). For tickets and information, visit www.pacificchorale.org or call 714-662-2345.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

ROBERT ISTAD, who “fashions fluent and sumptuous readings” (Voice of OC) with his “phenomenal” artistry (Los Angeles Times), was appointed Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director in 2017. Under his leadership, the chorus continues to expand its reputation for excellence for delivering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of beloved masterworks, rarely performed gems and newly commissioned pieces. His artistic impact can be heard on two recent recordings featuring Pacific Chorale: “Mahler’s Eighth Symphony” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on Deutsche Grammophon (2021), for which he prepared the chorus, and “All Things Common: The Music of Tarik O’Regan,” which he conducted, on Yarlung Records (2020). Istad has also prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Williams, John Mauceri, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Carl St.Clair, Eugene Kohn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody. He regularly conducts and collaborates with Pacific Symphony, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical Records, Yarlung Records, Berkshire Choral International, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. An esteemed educator, Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. He conducts the University Singers and manages a large graduate conducting program, in addition to teaching courses on conducting and performance practice. Istad, who is on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America and serves as Dean of Chorus America’s Conducting Academy, is in demand as guest conductor, lecturer, and clinician.

PACIFIC CHORALE, an Orange County “treasure” with a “fresh viewpoint” that “can sing anything you put in front of it, with polish, poise and tonal splendor” (Orange County Register) has “risen to national prominence” (Los Angeles Times) since its inception in 1968. Hailed for delivering “thrilling entertainment” (Voice of OC), the resident choir at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is noted for its artistic innovation and commitment to expanding the choral repertoire. It has given world, U.S., and West Coast premieres of more than 35 works, including numerous commissions, by such lauded composers as John Adams, Jake Heggie, James Hopkins, David Lang, Morten Lauridsen, Ravel, Tarik O’Regan, Karen Thomas, Frank Ticheli, András Gábor Virágh, and Eric Whitacre. In addition to presenting its own concert series each season, Pacific Chorale enjoys a long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, with whom the choir made its highly anticipated Carnegie Hall debut in 2018. The chorus also regularly appears with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, earning two 2022 Grammy Award nominations – Best Choral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical – for its contribution to the live classical recording of “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of A Thousand,’” conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, featuring Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson and Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale. The choir has performed with such leading orchestras as the Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Musica Angelica, among others. Pacific Chorale has garnered international acclaim as well, having toured extensively to more than 19 countries in Europe, South America, and Asia, and through collaborations with the London Symphony, Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, National Orchestra of Belgium, China National Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Estonian National Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina, among others. Deeply committed to making choral music accessible to people of all ages, the organization, which has a discography of 14 self-produced recordings and an extensive collection of exceptional free digital offerings, places a significant emphasis on choral music education, providing after-school vocal programs for elementary school students, a choral summer camp for high school students, and an annual community-wide singing event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

This article was released by Pacific Chorale.