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The Choral Art Society of New Jersey, along with a full orchestra and soloists, will present Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Toward the Unknown Region, Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42, and the world premiere of Martin Sedek’s Lux Noctisat The Presbyterian Church in Westfield, 140 Mountain Avenue, at 8:00 PM, Saturday, May 12, 2018. Tickets are $25, but $20 for seniors, and may be purchased at the door or on line at www.casofnj.org Concert goers under 18 years of age are admitted for free. For more information call 855-946-7652.
Toward the Unknown Region, Vaughan Williams’ first major choral piece, debuted at the Leeds Festival of 1907, with the composer conducting. It is a setting of Walt Whitman’s poem about a spiritual journey and the passage of the soul from darkness to light. The work, which begins softly and simply and builds to a bold and dramatic climax, established Vaughan Williams as one of the leading composers of the 20thcentury.
The psalms inspired Mendelssohn throughout his working life. The exquisite opening chorus of Psalm 42 is followed by arias, recitatives, and choral movements that reflect Mendelssohn’s deep love of the musical traditions of his predecessors, such as Bach and Mozart. Composed in the spring of 1837 while Mendelssohn and his bride were on their honeymoon, Psalm 42reflects the composer’s happiness as well as his deep religious convictions. The text is set in seven movements and calls for a soprano soloist, a male quartet, and a three-part women’s chorus in addition to the full mixed chorus. The orchestra is as large as the vocal forces, with strings and a wind section, including horns, trumpets, trombones, and timpani.
The world premiere ofLux Noctis,a large-scale oratorio by Choral Art Society of New Jersey’s music director, Martin Sedek, features soprano and tenor soloists in a dramatic and exciting exploration of poetry on the subjects of astronomy and science and our relationship to the stars, especially as it pertains to traditional faith and belief at a time when science has answered so many of the questions that have faced mankind. A wide variety of musical styles, such as chant, fugue, minimalism, and primitivism, are tied together in this neo-romantic work, with plentiful opportunities for both the chorus and orchestra to shine.
The non-profit Choral Art Society of New Jersey, which was established in 1963, incudes members from Union, Bergen, Morris, Essex, and Middlesex counties. The group stages concerts of choral works in January and May and hosts a community Messiah Sing each December.
Funding of the Choral Art Society of New Jersey has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, through a grant administered by the Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs.
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