Lacuna Arts is a San Francisco-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting excellence in vocal and choral music through performance, education, and community outreach. Artistic director Sven Edward Olbash prepares concert programs for two ensembles. The larger of these is the Chorale, an a cappella chorus of 24–32 balanced voices usually divided into two SATB choirs to take on some of the more demanding eight-part choral literature. Ensemble is a smaller chamber group, which usually assigns only one or two voices to each part.
The eleventh season of the Chorale will get under way at the end of this month with the first of four programs. Details have not yet been finalized for the third of these programs. However, because the first one is upon us; this is a good time to review the specifics that are available at the present time.
- A Voice from Heaven: music of Howells, Stanford, Parry, and Elgar: The major work on this program will be the Requiem for unaccompanied double choir and soloists by Herbert Howells. Howells composed this piece in 1932, but it was not published until 1980. Following the death of his son Michael in 1935, Howells reworked material from Requiem to compose a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra, Hymnus Paradisi; so neglect of Requiem was his own doing. As is the case with Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem, Howell’s Requiem is not based on the Mass setting for the dead. Like Brahms, Howells compiled his own text, drawing upon the Psalms and antiphons sung in both Latin and English. The Chorale will also sing the similarly-organized Songs of Farewell by Hubert Parry, as well as Edward Elgar’s “They are at rest” and settings of Latin motets by Charles Villiers Stanford. This concert will be given two performances at The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, located at 2325 Union Street in Cow Hollow. They will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, October 28, and at 4 p.m. on Sunday, October 30.
- The Story of Christmas: Distler’s Die Weihnachtsgeschichte: The Chorale will provide one of the Christmas concerts in the Old First Concerts series. The major work will be Hugo Distler’s 1933 setting of The Christmas Story in German, interleaving a narrative based on the Gospels with seven choral variations on the carol “Es ist ein Ros entsprungen” (lo, how a rose e’er blooming). To introduce Distler’s oratorio, the Chorale will sing Arvo Pärt’s “Which was the son of …,” which enumerates the genealogy leading up to Jesus. Old First Concerts take place at the Old First Church, located at 1751 Sacramento Street on the southeast corner of Van Ness Avenue. The performance will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, December 9.
- A Birthday Bachanalia: This concert will celebrate Johann Sebastian Bach’s 332nd birthday and Olbash’s ninth-annual Bach-birthday celebration. The featured composition will be Bach’s BWB 227 motet “Jesu, meine Freude” (Jesus, my joy). An ensemble of period instruments will double the vocal lines for these performances. The program will also include Heinrich Herzogenberg’s setting of Psalm 116, contrapuntal motets by Johannes Brahms, and English canticles by Felix Mendelssohn. A venue has not yet been finalized; but two performances are planned for Friday, March 17, and Saturday, March 18, both at 8 p.m.
- Madrigals of Passion & Despair by Monteverdi, di Lasso, and Lauridsen: The major work on the program will be Claudio Monteverdi’s five-voice madrigal cycle Pianto della Madonna (the Blessed Virgin’s lament), which incorporates the aria “Lasciatemi morire” (let me die) from the composer’s lost opera L’Arianna (Ariadne). (The aria is sometimes known as “Ariadne’s lament.”) There will also be a performance of the madrigal cycle Standomi un giorno solo a la fenestra (one day, standing alone at my window) by Orlande de Lassus (Orlando di Lasso). The program will conclude with Morten Lauridsen’s cycle Madrigali: Six Fire Songs, scored for eight-part chorus. The San Francisco performance of this concert will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 19. The venue will be the Concert Hall of the Community Music Center, located in the Mission at 544 Capp Street.
Single tickets for all concerts will be $20. A Season Subscription, which does not include the Old First Christmas concert. is still available for $50. That concert is being presented by Old First Concerts, and tickets will be sold through that organizations online event page. All other purchases may be made through a single Web page on the Lacuna Arts Web site.