This April, the GCB Songs of Spring Concerts will take place Friday April 28th, 7pm at First Unitarian Church on Pierrepont St in Brooklyn Heights and Saturday April 29th 7pm at All Saints Episcopal Church in Park Slope.
The GCB Spring Concert program will open with the 16th century and go ‘a-dancing in the grass’ with madrigals, “Now is the Month of Maying” by English composer Thomas Morley, and “In una verde piaggia” by Italian composer Giovanni Matteo Asola. Following these spirited pieces, will be a celebrated work from the 19th Century by Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. Haydn’s Spring Chorus, "Come lovely Spring” from “The Seasons” (1801) has the hallmark of his exuberant Classical period music.
Moving to the 20th & 21st centuries, GCB will feature significant early and late compositions, opening with our Chamber group performing the last movement of Kirke Mechem's "Five Centuries of Spring." The lovely text is by Edna St. Vincent Millay and questions the intentions of the spring's return. After the GCB Chamber group, the full chorus will sing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ (1897-1951) “The Spring Time of the Year”, a sailor’s love song to his ‘lady fair,’ and Jules Massenet’s (1842-1912) “Chères Fleurs” from Chansons des Bois D’Amaranthe, a poet’s warning to the spring flowers about faithless love. Among this group of composers will be Benjamin Britten with “Ballad of Green Broom” from his Five Flower Songs, a tour-de-force crowned by Britten’s humor and high-spirited altos singing ‘Go fetch me the boy!’
Among the pieces by living composers following Britten, Eric Whitacre’s setting of Garcia Lorca’s poem, “With a Lily in Your Hand”, contrasts the lyrical murmuring of Water with the glittering vibrant sparkle of Fire. “Spring Rain” by the Chinese composer Chen Yi blends and transcends Chinese and Western traditions with singers rhythmically depicting the falling rain while singing the text from an eighth-century Chinese poem, “Happy Rain on a Spring Night"...in Chinese. Also included in this group of contemporary compositions will be Morten Lauridsen’s “Les Chansons des Roses” featuring a five-piece song cycle based on Rainer Maira Rilke’s poetic celebration of the blossoming rose, and James Mulholland's choral setting of Robert Burn's poem"A Red, Red Rose." Both pieces are sweet and sensitive marriages of text and choral writing.
Following these compositions, GCB will offer a playful performance of The Swingle Singers' "It was a Lover and his Lass." Ward Swingle set these delightful verses from William Shakespeare’s "As You Like It" (Act V, sc. 3) in his own jazzy style. The concert will then conclude with the premiere of "April Song", a GCB commissioned choral work by Brooklyn-based composer, Matt Podd.