Our concert, “Gone Too Soon,” is right around the corner. This concert could be considered two years in the making, especially after its sudden cancellation last year due to Covid. After the dress rehearsal last spring, we knew it was going to be a great show; I knew I wanted to present it. Heck, it was “already in the can,” as they say, so I thought, “Let’s just do it next spring.”
As has been posted, the program consists of music by composers who left this world while at the height of their creativity. Many of the names will be familiar, including Mozart, Schubert, Pergolesi, Purcell, the Mendelssohns – Fanny and Felix, Chopin, Stephen Foster, and Bizet. Lesser known is the Renaissance Italian composer, Maddlena Casulana. She was a friend of Isabella de’ Medici and was the first woman composer in the history of Western Music to have a whole book of music printed and published. A number of her madrigals exist, several being recently discovered.
As always, I try to add to the program something different or surprising. Our second half will
include the music of the British composer, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor; a selection from Scott
Joplin’s opera, Treemonisha; and two George Gershwin choral arrangements. In addition, we
will reprise from our “Chicago Originals” concert, an arrangement of “Lincoln Park Pirates,” by
local songwriter, Steve Goodman, as well as a choral arrangement of the Lennon/McCartney
song, “Eleanor Rigby.” Goodman died of cancer at the age of 38 and Lennon was shot to death
Recent additions are two selections by the Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich. Leontovich
is known internationally for “Schedryk,” familiar to the English-speaking world as the Christmas
song, “The Ukrainian Bell Carol” or “Carol of the Bells.” Leontovich, who was highly trained,
prolific, and very well-known in Ukraine and Russia in his lifetime, fit perfectly into this
program, having died at the age of 44. Sadly, he was murdered in 1921 by a Russian agent.
Current world events make his inclusion even more appropriate.
I don’t know of any other organization who would assemble a program of this kind, as we
feature the music of 16 composers, spanning six centuries, and in six languages – English, Latin,
French, German, Italian, and Ukrainian. This is an historic event and definitely a program that
shouldn’t be missed.
Reflections on concerts, composers and music...