BY ANNE MARSH
Coro de Cámara
After a long year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s time for some bright and joyful spring music from the popular chamber chorus Coro de Cámara! The group’s latest online concert, “Dancing into May: Celebrating Life, Love, and New Birth,” premieres at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 30. The event is free (donations gratefully accepted) and can be accessed on Coro’s website corodecamara-nm.org. Those who can’t watch on the 30th are welcome to view the concert anytime thereafter. An online auction will accompany the concert and run from April 26 – May 4.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “If spring came but once a century instead of once a year, …what wonder and expectation there would be in all hearts to behold the miraculous change.” Recalling the poet’s words, Coro’s Artistic Director Nylea Butler-Moore says, “We want to notice and celebrate the wonders of spring that have come to us despite the pandemic. In a time of loss and upheaval, we need something to remind us of beauty and joy.”
Butler-Moore continues, “The concert’s launch date, April 30, coincides with May Day celebrations throughout the Northern Hemisphere, and the title, “Dancing into May: Celebrating Life, Love, and New Birth,” is an adaptation of a German spring festival motto. May Day for the Greeks represented the victory of life over death, and to the Italians, rebirth. These ancient festivals included dancing, singing, and cakes. What’s not to like?”
The program features four spring-themed a cappella songs, three by well-known English madrigal composer Thomas Morley (1557-1603). Morley was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, and one of his songs, “It Was a Lover and His Lass,” takes its text from As You Like It. Two Morley pieces also showcase the talents of our lower voices and give the tenors and basses a demanding vocal workout. Looking at Morley’s work led Butler-Moore to the songs of Robert Pearsall (1795-1856) and his “Spring Returns.” Though a later composer, Pearsall was instrumental in reviving the madrigal form, and wrote in the style of Morley and other early composers.
The songs will alternate with four poems about spring, life, and love, including “O Mistress Mine” from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and “Corinna’s Going a-Maying” by another Shakespeare contemporary, Robert Herrick. We’ll also hear poetry from William Blake and Sara Teasdale. Pianist Yelena Mealy will round off the program with piano solos by Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel and Franz Liszt.
This concert is Coro’s third experiment in online programming. Butler-Moore notes, “The singers recorded their parts at home, and AV Tech Rick Bolton worked with me to put the parts together. Making music this way is challenging and time-consuming, and we all miss the sense of community that comes when we sing in person together. But through the wonders of technology, when we see the end result, we magically become a choir again.”
Coro de Cámara invites the community to celebrate life, love, and new birth with the premiere of “Dancing into May” on April 30, and to check out their online auction beginning April 26. Links to both the concert and auction may be found at corodecamara-nm.org.