Orlando Sings is one of Central Florida’s newest professional arts organizations and has already had an exciting and successful first season. Led by Artistic and Executive Director Dr. Andrew Minear, Orlando Sings serves as the umbrella organization for a family of singing groups comprising two professional ensembles, the Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus and the Solaria Singers. This young organization has already got off to a good start in its first season with sold-out and full houses for each of the three concerts it presented, as well as a successful sold-out fundraising gala.
Now the Orlando Sings are gearing up to wrap up their inaugural season with a three-concert run in downtown Orlando; the first annual Orlando Sings Choral Festival.
“Thanks to the talented musicians and generous supporters of our community, we are thrilled to present the first annual Orlando Sings Choral Festival. I hope our audience members will be moved and inspired by the diverse range of choral music featured in our world class. The music is sometimes empowering, and sometimes exhilarating, heartbreaking, or just stunningly beautiful. The themes of our programs are both universal and deeply personal, and we will offer our audiences innovative ways to connect authentically with the way whose powerful texts relate to their own life experiences.
For years to come, the Orlando Sings Choral Festival will enhance Orlando’s international reputation as a hub for choral music and serve as a creative engine to bring new art music to life. I am thrilled to bring professional choral singing to downtown Orlando and share the wonderful music of this annual concert series with our city and its singers.”
The festival opens May 26 with Orlando’s own professional vocal ensemble, The Solaria Singers, presenting an exciting and captivating program of choral music by black composers at the Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. . Among the finest and best crafted choral music ever written, much of this music has historically been excluded or ignored from classical music curricula. The selections on Solaria’s program include fine examples of non-idiomatic music by black composers as well as black spirituals, always an audience favorite and a much-loved genre of American music. Composers include R. Nathaniel Dett, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Marques LA Garrett, Adolphus Hailstork, Moses Hogan, Undine Smith Moore, Zanaida Robles, André Thomas, among others.
We are delighted to welcome the Mastersingers of Jones High School and their director Andrea Green who will join Solaria for this concert.
The festival continues on June 9 at First United Methodist Church in Orlando where the 75-voice Orlando Sings Symphony Choir, along with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, will perform Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem with Andrea Clearfield’s Tse Go La.
Duruflé’s Requiem is one of the most powerful works for choir and orchestra of all time. The composer takes ancient Gregorian chant melodies and organically surrounds them with harmonies and textures reminiscent of French Impressionism and even jazz. In addition to strings, trumpet and harp, with this work we will once again feature the brilliant organist Dr. Michael Ging who was featured earlier in the season at the “Joyful Beginnings” concert.
Tse Go La (On the Threshold of This Life), composed in 2012 and scored for double choir, chamber orchestra and electronics, is inspired by composer Andrea Clearfield’s fieldwork in the remote and restricted Himalayan region of Lo Monthang in Upper Mustang, Nepal, where she recorded and documented indigenous folk music with ethnomusicologist and anthropologist Katey Blumenthal. The people of this region, just across the border from Tibet, are ethnically Tibetan. Lo Monthang is one of the last enclaves of ancient Tibetan culture. These songs are sung in the Mustang dialect of Tibetan. Under the auspices of the Rubin Foundation, Clearfield and Blumenthal recorded 130 songs that had not been previously documented. The songs are now part of Cambridge University’s Global Oral Literature Project dedicated to preserving endangered languages. The recordings are also now in the Lo Monthang Cultural Library, Nepal, and the songs are being taught to Mustangi children in New York as part of a new initiative to preserve Himalayan language and culture.
These two pieces reflect life in all its stages, from birth to the last breath. The evening will be dedicated to the 49 lives lost in the Pulse tragedy and the concert will be included in the official Remembrance Week activities. Representatives of the One Pulse Foundation will give a presentation and reflection before the start of the concert.
The festival concludes June 11 with the Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus performing Eric Whitacre’s The Sacred Veil with UCF cello teacher David Bjella at Steinmetz Hall. Premiered in 2019, The Sacred Veil is a 12-movement work and the most recent collaboration between Eric Whitacre and poet/lyricist Charles Anthony Silvestri telling a story of life, love and loss. Silvestri’s wife Julie died of ovarian cancer aged 36 in 2005, leaving two young children. Featuring lyrics by Silvestri, Whitacre and Julie herself, the intimate and compelling score tells a story of courtship, love, loss and the search for solace. Although inspired by this extraordinary and moving friendship, the piece does not mention Julie by name and shares a very human journey that many of us can identify with.
“The Sacred Veil is perhaps the most significant musical contribution of our time, perhaps at any time, to a non-religious, non-political understanding – perhaps we could say non-teleological of death and of loss. Its length and difficulty may prevent it from being included in your average funeral, but experiencing it in performance with 40 singers, or perhaps in recorded form, can be transformative for those whose grief, recent or deep, never fully found a solution.” – PeoplesWorld.org
This performance is the final concert of the first annual Orlando Sings Choral Festival and concludes the inaugural Orlando Sings season. A historic moment will be the debut of the Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus in Steinmetz Hall with the exquisite acoustics of the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
Orlando Sings presents its first annual Choral Festival
May 26 | Solaria sings the music of black composers | Pugh Theater
June 9 | Duruflé Requiem and Tse Go La by Clearfield | First United Methodist Church of Orlando
June 11 | Sacred Veil by Eric Whitacre | Steinmetz Room
Tickets can be purchased online at https://orlandosings.org
ABOUT ORLANDO SINGS
The Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus specializes in the performance of large-scale choral works. They sing music inspired by the many cultures of the greater Orlando community, classical masterpieces, thought-provoking new works and world premieres. Comprised of choral musicians from diverse backgrounds and professions, this dedicated group of artists will collaborate with chamber and symphony orchestras each season beginning with their collaboration with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra for their inaugural concert on November 18.
The Orlando Sings Solaria Singers is a professional chamber choir made up of the finest singers in Central Florida. Solaria performs new interpretations of the greatest choral works in history as well as the most adventurous, compelling and meaningful music composed for vocal ensembles of the 21st century.
Orlando Sings is not only committed to performing some of the best-known and most celebrated works in the canon, but is also committed to presenting and commissioning new works, especially by diverse and underrepresented composers. Each Orlando Sings concert season will include works by composers from groups historically excluded from choral music, including women and BIPOC. The organization strives to create spaces where artists can build an inclusive culture that values and celebrates the diverse voices and life experiences of our community.