Arts and Entertainment

Chorale gets set to celebrate the season

Gary Cannon raises his baton to conduct the 85-strong Vashon Island Chorale. - Rick Wallace photo
Gary Cannon raises his baton to conduct the 85-strong Vashon Island Chorale.
— image credit: Rick Wallace photo

Vashon Island Chorale will ring in the holiday season next weekend with an ambitious concert that features not only masterpieces from the Renaissance and Baroque eras but also two new works by contemporary composers.

The concert will boast an 18-piece professional orchestra, as well as solos by Vashon Opera founder Jennifer Krikawa and two other chorale members, Anne Terry and Susan Valenti.

It’s all part of the corale’s ecumenical approach to music and its goal to keep its audiences inspired with a variety of music.

“If all we perform is music from centuries ago, we’re dooming ourselves to an art form that becomes out of touch with reality,” said Gary Cannon, who is now in his second year as artistic director of Vashon’s 85-member chorus.

Cannon added that he is especially excited this year’s concert will include the premiere of “The Third Joyous Mystery: The Birth of the Christ, Jesus,” which was written especially for the chorale by Islander Charles Lovekin.

Lovekin, who holds two degrees in music theory and is an accompanist and choir member at St. John Vianney Church, wrote the piece as a dedication to Rev. Richard Roach, the parish priest who died in 2008.

Lovekin described the process of writing his piece as one of reflection.

“I imagined clearly a cold, bright starlit night — the stuff of posters and Christmas cards around Christmas,” Lovekin explained. “I wanted to incorporate somehow two very strong elements that came with the music from the outset — the choir of angels mentioned in Luke, and my own meditations.”

Audiences who attend the chorale’s concert will also have an opportunity to hear “O Be Joyful,” a 2006 choral work by noted Seattle composer and conductor Roupen Shakarian.

The centerpiece of the concert, however, will reach back centuries to more beloved and familiar choral works. Cannon promised a “nimble and elegant” performance of Antonio Vivaldi’s “Gloria,” written in the early 1700s.

Other early works in the concert will include Victoria’s “Ave Maria,” from the late 1500s, and a Sweelinck creation, which Cannon pointed out bridged the Renaissance period of Victoria and the Baroque era of Vivaldi.

Rounding out the program will be a Spanish piece featuring Island singer Gary Koch and several participatory traditional carols.

The concert will be the last chance for Islanders to hear the chorale on its home turf for a while.

Instead of performing a spring concert on the Island, the Chorale will be singing Mozart’s “Requiem” at Benaroya Hall on March 14.

They’ll perform the Mozart work with two other choirs but will also have 15 minutes to shine all by themselves as they perform other material, with Krikawa and Cannon spotlighted as soloists.

Chorale member Cynthia Perkins said she hopes Islanders will be able to attend the March concert as well as the upcoming holiday concert.

“This is, of course, a huge once-in-a-lifetime experience for most of us, and it’s been years in the making,” she said.

The “Gloria” concert will take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, at Bethel Church, 14736 S.W. Bethel Lane. Tickets, $12.50 general admission and $10 for seniors and students, are on sale at Vashon Bookshop, Books by the Way and the Blue Heron.

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