May 11, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
ANGELES CHORALE CONCLUDES ITS 41ST SEASON - PRIMAL INSTINCTS - WITH A CONCERT EXPLORING HUMANKIND’S PRIMAL NEED FOR FREEDOM
FREEDOM! The Sounds of Hope and Survival will present works that give voice to the desire to be free – whether it is from hunger, sorrow, indifference, loss of liberty, or environmental disaster
Also featured is the suite, Songs of the Slave, from Kirke Mechem’s opera, John Brown, with bass-baritone Cedric Berry
Angeles Chorale presents FREEDOM!
The Sounds of Hope and Survival
Saturday, June 11
Works celebrating humankind’s quest for freedom, including:
Kasar Mie La Gaji/The Earth is Tired (Alberto Grau)
Famine Song (arr by Matthew Colloton)
Dry Your Tears, Afrika (John Williams)
O Vos Omnes (Pablo Casals)
Lamentations of Jeremiah (Z. Randoll Stroop)
Song of Democracy (Howard Hanson)
Songs of the Slave (Kirke Mechem)
Guest artist: bass-baritone Cedric Berry
First United Methodist Church
500 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA. 91101
$25 in advance if purchased online/$30 at the door
$20 student tickets with valid ID at the door
LOS ANGELES, Calif. The philosopher and politician Cicero wrote, “Freedom is a possession of inestimable value,” and his declaration has echoed throughout the ages, through the words of such orators as Patrick Henry (“Give me liberty”) and Martin Luther King (“Let freedom ring!”). But composers have also taken up the cry, perhaps even more eloquently, as the Angeles Chorale will reveal when it presents “FREEDOM! The Sounds of Hope and Survival” on Saturday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Pasadena.
“Our shared history has been built upon the will to endure and create a better world for ourselves and our children,” says Artistic Director John Sutton. “And while personal and political freedoms play a huge role in this, we wanted to go deeper. We’re all in chains – a situation that seems unsolvable, an addiction, a mindset. But heartfelt, powerful music can make a difference. My hope is that every person who attends this performance will leave freer – stronger and more confident that they can break free of the challenge they’re facing.”
FREEDOM! will open with Kasar Mie La Gaji by Alberto Grau, a leading figure in Venezuelan choral music. Translated from the Hausa language spoken in the western Sahel region of Africa, the song’s title – “the earth is tired” – reflects the planet’s ‘desire’ to be ‘free’ from the environmental impact of the 20th/21st centuries. As Grau states, his purpose in writing the piece was to provoke an “international mobilization to save the earth.”
The Chorale ‘remains’ in Africa – the birthplace of humanity – when it presents Matthew Colloton’s arrangement of Famine Song. An a cappella work inspired by the stories of the Sudanese people during the 1980s famine, it speaks to the basic human need to be free from hunger. Yet hunger can be spiritual as well, as Dry Your Tears, Afrika – a song composed by John Williams for Steven Spielberg’s movie, Amistad, reveals.
The poem that supplied the text for Dry Your Tears, Afrika was written over 100 years after the mutiny aboard the slave ship, La Amistad. Written by Bernard Binlin Dadié in 1969, it celebrates the return of Africa’s “children” to their homeland where, perhaps now, wounds from the past can be healed.
“One of the lessons of Africa is that the sorrow of others cannot be ignored,” says Sutton. “We’ll perform two songs that emphasize this – O vos omnes by Pablo Casals and Lamentations of Jeremiah by Randoll Stroop. Both take their text from the Bible’s book of Lamentations, which implores us to ‘pay attention and see, look and see my sorrow.’ Don’t just pass by others who are hurting. Their song is the song of people just like us.”
From there, FREEDOM! will explore our hunger for political freedom. Yet, while the “ship of Democracy” in Howard Hanson’s Song of Democracy – a setting of two poems by Walt Whitman – is a symbol of freedom, not all immigrants who sailed to America came of their own volition. Illustrating this is Songs of the Slave, a suite from the opera John Brown by Kirke Mechem.
Bass-baritone Cedric Berry will appear as Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave who became the greatest African-American leader of the 19th century and was a close friend of the abolitionist John Brown. Highlights include a 4-part rendition of John Brown’s favorite hymn, Blow Ye the Trumpet by Charles Wesley; Dan-u-el, an exhilarating piece reminiscent of a black spiritual; the Songs of the Slave, which are “the sorrows of his heart”; and a finale where Douglass and the Chorale sing excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, including the line “All men are created equal.”
“Songs of the Slave transcends time and speaks directly to current issues here in America and across the globe,” says Berry. “Fear and fear mongering still threaten equality for all men and women.”
Tickets for FREEDOM! are available for $25/person if ordered in advance online and for $30 at the door. Student tickets may be purchased for $20, with a valid ID, at the door only. To order tickets or learn more about the Angeles Chorale, visit www.angeleschorale.org or call 818.591.1735.
First United Methodist church is located at 500 East Colorado Blvd, in Pasadena 91101.
The Angeles Chorale thanks the Los Angeles County Arts Commission for its help in supporting this performance.
ABOUT GUEST ARTIST, CEDRIC BERRY
CEDRIC BERRY, bass-baritone, received his music diploma from Interlochen Arts Academy, and both his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Southern California. He gained his first professional experience as a Resident Artist with Los Angeles Opera, performing the roles of Fiorello in The Barber of Seville, Schaunard in La Boheme, Second Philistine in Samson et Dalila, Wagner in Faust, Crébillon in La Rondine, and First Mate in Billy Budd. Other roles include the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Collatinus in Britten's The Rape of Lucretia, Falstaff in Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor, and Sarastro in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte all with USC Opera, Méphistophélès in Gounod’s Faust with Pacific Repertory Opera, Leporello in Mozart’s Don Giovanni with UCLA Opera, Dewaine in John Adams’ I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky with Long Beach Opera, and The Good Man in Anne LeBaron’s Crescent City with The Industry.
Cedric made his first European stage appearances as Jake in a concert version of Gershwin's Porgy and Bess in Madrid, and Cuenca, Spain. He also appeared with Los Angeles Opera at the Savonlinna Opera Festival singing the role of First Nazarene in Salome, and sang a concert in tribute to Paul Robeson for the Banlieues Bleues festival in Paris, France.
On the concert stage he has appeared with Bakersfield Symphony, Fresno Philharmonic and Santa Fe Symphony in Handel’s Messiah, Pacific Symphony in Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor, Arizona Symphony as Balthazar in Amahl and the Night Visitors, the Telemann Chamber Orchestra in a performance of Handel’s Messiah in Tokyo, Japan and of Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in Osaka, Japan, the Luckman Jazz Orchestra singing Duke Ellington’s Scared Songs, the New West Symphony as Zuniga in Carmen, the Southwest Chamber Orchestra in Wuorinen’s The Haroun Songbook, the Pasadena Pops Orchestra in Jerome Kern’s Showboat Symphonic Suite, the California Philharmonic in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess Concert Suite, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Michael Torke’s Book of Proverbs.
He has been the recipient of several awards including first place in LA’s Artist of the Future Competition, the Italian Educator’s Vocal Competition, and the Metropolitan Opera Western Region Competition. Recent Los Angeles engagements include the lead role of Kublai Khan in Invisible Cities, an opera which was a 2014 Pulitzer Prize Finalist. The production was listed as “Best of 2013” by the Los Angeles Times. The documentary of the production received and Emmy Award, and a CD was recorded and released in Nov. 2014.
ABOUT THE CHORALE
The Angeles Chorale is a 100-voice, auditioned, professional-level, volunteer choir rehearsing and performing in the Los Angeles area. Its mission is to engage, enrich and inspire its audiences, singers, and our diverse community by performing great choral music with a passionate commitment to excellence, and to increase access to and appreciation of choral music in greater Los Angeles.
The Chorale was founded in 1975 by Bill and Ada Beth Lee, who led the organization until 1987 when John Alexander assumed the mantle of Artistic Director. In 1996, Donald Neuen, Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, stepped to the podium and led the Chorale for the next thirteen years. Under his direction, the Angeles Chorale became best known for its productions of classical masterworks for chorus and orchestra. The Chorale’s 41st concert season, entitled “Primal Instincts” and the sixth under the direction of Dr. John Sutton, will explore music that captures the human spirit, including Handel’s Messiah, Orff’s epic Carmina Burana, and the poignant sounds of the Freedom Train.
The Angeles Chorale has performed with many local orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and the American Youth Symphony.
The Chorale appeared with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 2012 under the direction of Gustavo Dudamel as he conducted Mahler’s 8th Symphony, the Symphony of a Thousand, at the Shrine Auditorium. That season, the Angeles Chorale also was honored to perform with Barbra Streisand at the Hollywood Bowl and with Julie Andrews at the annual Holiday Sing-Along at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, part of the LA Philharmonic’s “Deck the Halls” concert series. In summer 2014, 30 members of the Angeles Chorale returned to the Hollywood Bowl to appear with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a performance entitled “An Evening of Chinese Splendor,” featuring Song Zuying, one of China’s most prominent and best-established artists, and pop singer Wang Leehom. Most recently the ensemble appeared with the Young Artist’s Symphony Orchestra in its inaugural performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, Resurrection. The Chorale will also once again lead the LA Philharmonic’s annual Holiday Sing-Along at the Walt Disney Concert Hall on Saturday, December 17, 2016.
For the past seven years, the Angeles Chorale has worked with Immediate Music, one of the largest leasing libraries for movie previews and television commercials, as well as many other similar organizations. Chorale voices can be heard in many Hollywood movie trailers, including Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Tangled, Meet the Parents: Little Fockers, and Prince of Persia.
ABOUT ARTISTIC DIRECTOR JOHN SUTTON
John Sutton’s professional choral career spans over four decades of work in the community, church, academic, and professional settings. From major choral and instrumental works, concert and chamber choirs, to music for television and movies, John is recognized for his work with children, youth, adults, and with amateurs and professionals alike. Today he is one of the most active professional conductors in the nation, conducting over 400 singers and orchestra members weekly.
As a student, Dr. Sutton has studied with some of the most distinguished conductors in the field of choral music. John holds degrees from Northwest University (B.A. in Sacred Music and Biblical Literature), San José State University where he was a student of Dr. Charlene Archibeque (MA in Choral Conducting), and the University of California at Los Angeles, where his mentoring professor was Donald Neuen (DMA in Choral Conducting). He continues to actively study with both Dr. Archibeque and Professor Neuen.
Beyond his focused choral training in the university setting, John has studied and performed with notable choral luminaries such as Robert Shaw, Helmuth Rilling, Eric Ericson, Weston Noble, Frank Pooler, Howard Swan, Paul Salamunovich, Anton Armstrong, Eph Ely, Jerry Blackstone, and others. In addition, he has performed extensively throughout the United States and abroad in choral concert tours and recording projects which include performances at the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, and Constitution Hall. He has conducted international concert tours with church and university choirs throughout Canada, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Argentina, and South Korea. In 2012, John prepared choirs from the United States and United Kingdom for performances at the Brittania Music festivitals in Birmingham and London, England.
His enthusiasm for the choral art and his commitment to excellence has made him a popular choral clinician, festival conductor and adjudicator, leading workshops for the American Choral Directors Association, the National Association of Church Musicians, American Christian Schools International, Choristers Guild, the national Conference on Liturgy and Worship, the Mount Herman Summer Choral Conference, and many others. In January of 2010 he was the featured speaker at the National Association of Church Musicians, Mid-Winter Conference. In 2011, John was the featured clinician for the Lake Tahoe “Summer Sing,” and in June 2013, Dr. Sutton was the featured clinician and founding conductor for the inaugural Exultate Deo Choral Festival in Buenas Aires, Argentina. His choirs have toured throughout the United States, and in 2015-’16 John will be conducting concerts, adjudicating choral festivals, and leading choral workshops throughout California, Oregon, and Washington.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 2000, John has conducted choral music heard on weekly television series, and national ad campaigns for major motion pictures such as the Harry Potter series, the Spider Man series, The Divinci Code, Fantastic Four, and countless others. In 2005, he was appointed as the Music Director/Conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s annual Christmas Holiday Sing-a-Long. His relationship with the L.A. Phil has resulted in Hollywood Bowl performances with pop singer Barry Manilow (2009), Barbara Streisand (2012), and two sold out performances with Julie Andrews (2012-13) at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He will again be leading the L.A. Phil’s Holiday Family Sing-a-Long in December, 2016 at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
2010 marked Dr. Sutton being named as the Artistic Director of the Angles Chorale, and being selected as the Azusa Pacific University (APU) nominee for the national Arlin G. Meyer Award for Outstanding Musical Performance. In May, 2014, Dr. Sutton was the inaugural recipient of the Faith & Fine Arts Award, presented by APU’s College of Music and the Arts. For two consecutive years, he has been the School of Music and Arts nominee for APU’s Chase A. Sawtell Award for Most Inspirational Faculty of the Year (2014 and ‘15).
John is an Associate Professor at APU in the College of Music and the Arts, where he serves as the Director of Choral Activities, conducting the Oratorio Choir and the University Choir and Orchestra, and teaching classes in conducting, and Church Music. Dr. Sutton continues to lead and consult with the choral and worship programs at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, where he has served since Fall, 2000.
John resides in Altadena, California with his wife, Dr. Cecilia Patiño-Sutton.
Publicist: Jenine Baines
Executive Director: Rae Macdonald
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