BY ANNE MARSH
The chamber singers of Coro de Cámara invite the community to experience the joy of enchanting choral music in their exciting new program “E = mc2 : Energy = Mozart, Courtney, and Chilcott.” This innovative concert weaves music from the classical era with contemporary works, culminating in Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass with jazz trio. The program will be offered at three different venues:
- Friday, April 12, 8:00 p.m., United Church of Santa Fe, 1804 Arroyo Chamiso Road
- Saturday, April 13, 4:00 p.m., White Rock United Methodist Church, 580 Meadow Lane
- Sunday, April 14, 3:00 p.m., Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, 1738 N. Sage Street
The concert opens with four pieces by contemporary American composer Craig Courtney, who is known for the beauty of his sacred choral works and for his choral arrangements of works by master composers like Schubert and Vaughan Williams.
Works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart follow the Courtney selections. Artistic Director Nylea Butler-Moore says, “Coro’s recent concerts have focused on contemporary music. I felt it was time to do something classical, and I kept going back to Mozart, especially some of his sacred works. But I didn’t want to do a program that’s all classical — I was looking for something to balance Mozart. In my search for repertoire, I came across British composer Bob Chilcott’s A Little Jazz Mass and saw that it was for voices and jazz trio. We already had a wonderful jazz trio we’ve worked with before — Joe Cox, piano, John Frary, drums, and Howard Coe, upright electric bass. Knowing how capable these musicians are and how much joy they bring to their music, I talked with Joe Cox, and we decided: Yes, let’s do it!”
Chilcott is a singer as well as a composer; he sang with the King’s Singers and knows how to write for a chorus. He also knows how to move an audience, as concertgoers at Coro de Camára’s “Call of the Isles” experienced when they heard his beautiful arrangement of “O Danny Boy.” A Little Jazz mass is very different, but equally stirring. It is a “missa brevis,” which means “short mass,” only 13 minutes long. Chilcott’s publisher says of the movements in this mass, “The Kyrie has real groove, the Gloria swings, the Sanctus sits right back, the Benedictus hums along, and the Agnus Dei draws inspiration from the Blues.”
Butler-Moore noted that “Doing a mass in jazz styles or Latin American salsa or bluegrass is a relatively recent thing. The acceptance of the folk mass of the 1960s opened the way for modern composers to set the mass in global styles and in languages other than Latin (although the Chilcott mass is sung in Latin). And Chilcott’s setting enables one of our own Coro singers, Joe Cox, to use his gift for jazz improvisation. The Trio is free to improvise their accompaniment under the chorus’ vocal lines.”
Singer and jazz pianist Joe Cox says, “When I learned that Nylea was planning to program Mozart and a jazz mass with the Trio, I asked her if she’d be interested in my composing a short set of Mozart-inspired jazz arrangements. She liked the idea, so right before Coro sings the Chilcott mass, the Jazz Trio will perform my new arrangements of themes from Mozart’s Sonata
K545 in C major, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Symphony in G minor, and Rondo Alla Turca. It’s surprising how Mozart’s great melodies can sound familiar, yet at the same time completely different with jazzy harmonies and rhythms underneath.”
In addition to the work of the Jazz Trio, “E = mc2” will also feature baritone Carlos Archuleta, who will sing with the chorus and perform a solo aria by Mozart. “Rivolgete a lui lo sguardo” (“Return His Glance”) is a concert aria, originally written for the opera Cosi Fan Tutte. Butler- Moore notes that this aria has “a crazy text about a man who’s quite full of himself. Audiences will enjoy Carlos’ portrayal and his magnificent voice.” A native New Mexican, Carlos Archuleta has had a full and varied career as an operatic baritone, with repertoire ranging from Rossini and Verdi (and Mozart!) to Adams and DeFalla. He has performed featured roles with opera companies around the world, and is widely known as an oratorio soloist as well.
Butler-Moore says, “Coro de Camára has been fortunate to have immensely talented musicians like Carlos perform with us. In this concert, we are also delighted to feature pianist JeeYeon Plohr, who will play a four-hands piano piece by Craig Courtney with our gifted accompanist Yelena Mealy.”
A note about the concert title, which was inspired by Einstein’s famous equation: the energy of the music gives us the “E”; the masses (A Little Jazz Mass and a movement from Mozart’s Requiem) along with Mozart himself, give us the “m”; and the composers Courtney and Chilcott give us the “c2.” Thus, “E = mc2 : Energy = Mozart, Courtney, and Chilcott.”
Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for students, and are available at the door or through the Coro de Cámara website corodecamara-nm.org.