Saratoga Orchestra will join with the singers of the Massed Choir of Whidbey to present “Fairy Tales & Ancient Legends” this month.
According to a news release, the concert includes the exquisite scenic cantata, “Carmina Burana” by German composer Carl Orff, along with excerpts from Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Hänsel und Gretel.”
Performances are scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, March 21, at Oak Harbor High School, and at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at South Whidbey High School.
Anna Edwards conducts more than 60 musicians and 150 singers from Whidbey Island, helping to unify the talent of both the north and south ends, including the students from area high schools. Soloists include Karl Olsen, Lisa Berritella, and Voltaire Verzosa. Choral preparation is by Darren McCoy and Dr. Dianne Vars.
“I am very excited about this project,” Edwards said, in the news release. “‘Carmina Burana,’ is an epic journey filled with great music and great voices.”
Edwards said her main goal is to bring great symphonic music to all of Whidbey Island and to showcase the deep talent that resides here.
“We want to celebrate and spotlight the unique creative talents that this community has to offer through music,” Edwards said.
German composer Carl Orff’s 1937 work, “Carmina Burana,” may be the most frequently performed choral work of the 21st century, according to the release. The work came out of a large collection of medieval poems found in the early nineteenth century in southern Germany. The songs (over 1,000 of them) were written in a mix of Latin, German and medieval French by the Goliards, a band of poet-musicians comprising scholars and clerical students, who celebrated with earthy humor the joys of the tavern, nature, love and lust.
Also from Germany, Engelbert Humperdinck, who wrote the music for “Hansel and Gretel” was inspired by his sister, Adelheid Wette, who had written a libretto based on the Grimm fairy tale, and asked her brother to set it to music during the 1890s. Later, Engelbert and Adelheid decided to turn this modest family project into a full-scale opera, which premiered in Germany in 1893. It was an instant hit and remains an everlasting masterpiece. The young composer Richard Strauss, who was the assistant conductor for the premiere, called it “a masterwork of the first rank.”
“In my opinion, music gives students one of the best opportunities to develop their thought processes, expressive outlets, and collaborative skills,” Edwards said, in the news release. “We are so lucky to have public school teachers such as Darren McCoy, Bruce Lantz, and Chris Harshman, who have such solid music programs. We feel very fortunate that these teachers are willing to share their talented students for an opportunity to perform with us.
“In addition, we are extremely honored to have Dr. Dianne Vars helping with the adult members of the choir. Her expertise as a choral conductor has been so valuable in preparing for these concerts.”
The 150-voice Massed Choir of Whidbey is comprised of residents from all corners of Whidbey Island. Represented choral ensembles include; Open Circle Singers, Trinity Lutheran Church Choir, Langley Methodist Church Choir, Island Consort, Whidbey Community Chorus, and Oak Harbor High School among many others. The shear size of the orchestra and choir necessitates holding these concerts in each school’s gymnasiums.
“Fortuna” is the Roman goddess of luck, chance and fortune, who is featured in the first movement of the “Carmina Burana” cantata. In the name of the great Fortuna, the concerts will hold a “Sharing our Fortunes” fund drive at each concert. Collected funds will go to Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley and Help House of Oak Harbor.
General Admission tickets are $25 Adult and $20 Senior/Military.
Students under 18 are admitted free (under 14 must be accompanied by a paying adult). Tickets available for the Langley concert at Moonraker Books in Langley and Vino Amore in Freeland. Tickets for the Coupeville concert available at bayleaf in Coupeville, and Click Music in Oak Harbor.
For on-line tickets and information, please visit our website www.sowhidbey.com or call 360-929-3045.