a Seattle-based women's chamber choir

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Postcards: Songs from the Four Corners

Saturday, 2 June 2018 • 4:30pm
Green Lake Church of Seventh-day Adventists
6350 East Green Lake Way N • Seattle, WA 98103 Buy Tickets

We now live in a world where superb choral composing is happening all over the globe, and music for choirs like Ancora is rich and varied. Next spring, Ancora will expose our audience to this state of the art with a program called “Postcards: Songs from the Four Corners,” featuring songs suites of Russia, Japan, Spain, and Iran.



Sergei Rachmaninoff
Six Choruses, Op.15
1. Славься (Glory!)
2. Ночка (Night)
3. Сосна (The Pine Tree)
4. Задремали волны (The Waves Are Slumbering)
5. Неволя (Captivity)
6. Ангел (The Angel)
Rachmaninoff composed the Six Choruses for Women’s Voices in 1895 for a chorus at the Maryinsky Girls’ School, where he was a teacher of music theory. This is a lovely Romantic cycle for two-part treble voices and a brilliant piano accompaniment. Rachmaninoff was in his early youth at the time of composition, and the suite demonstrates the profound influence of Tschaikovsky on generations of Russian composers. Here Rachmaninoff expresses deep emotion, as well as poetic images of nature, composed with elegance and sophistication.


Bob Chilcott
1. 砂山 (Sand mountain)
2. 村祭 (Village festival)
3. おぼろ月夜 (Blurred moon)
4. 故郷 (Homeland)
5. 紅葉 (Maple leaves)
A founding member of the famed King’s Singers, Britain’s Bob Chilcott has become a truly international figure in choral music in recent years. His Furusato choral suite presents five evocative arrangements of Japanese songs. Each poem depicts the beauty of the Japanese landscape, and familiar melodies and Chilcott’s original style combine to create an enchanting fusion of East and West.


Einojuhani Rautavaara
Suite de Lorca
1. Canción de jinete (Song of the horseman)
2. El grito (The scream)
3. La luna asoma (The moon rises)
4. Malagueña
The diminutive Suite de Lorca (1973) is a prime example of just how difficult it is to predict what will become a hit. Rautavaara wrote the piece as a companion to his Children’s Mass and entered both in a composition competition organized by his home city of Espoo, in Finland. Rautavaara had no great expectations regarding the Suite. But while the Mass won first prize, it is rarely performed nowadays; the Suite won third prize, yet is today one of the most popular Finnish choral works of all time.

This may have something to do with how the piece packs a considerable impact in its short duration. Consisting of four brief but intense pieces, it is essentially a study in the use of symmetrical scales (alternating tones and semitones). “Canción de jinete” is based on a monomaniac galloping rhythm, while “El grito” is based on, well, a scream. “La luna asoma” features “moon music,” while the parallel chords of “Malagueña” mimic the strumming of a guitar. – Jaakko Mäntyjärvi

Federico Garcia Lorca was born in Fuente Vaqueros, Granada, Spain, in 1898. Garcia Lorca is Spain’s most deeply appreciated and highly revered poet and dramatist. His murder by the Nationalists in 1936 at the start of the Spanish Civil War brought sudden international fame. Finnish composer Einojuhani Rautavaara composed his “Suite” de Lorca in 1973 and a few years later wrote an SSAA version for the well-known Tapiola Choir. The surrealistic visions of the poems and their settings provide a challenge in terms of choral texture and the expressive variety involved. The musical language of this piece is both rich and colorful, as evocative as the text.


Abbie Betinis
From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez
1. we have come
2. suffer no grief
3. closer to the fire
4. boatpeople
5. we have come (reprise)
Johann Wolfgang Goethe once wrote, “Only with you, Hâfez, do I wish to compete, for the older you get, the younger you become… And religion is no obstacle, for if the word ‘Islam’ means ‘to submit to God,’ we all live and die in Islam.” Khwajeh Shams al-Din Muhammad Hâfez-e Shirazi (ca. 1320-1390) was born in Shiraz, Persia (Iran). He wrote nearly 400 lyric poems, called ghazals, and is the undisputed master of that particular poetic form. His mystical writing is based on Sufism, a tradition of Islam that is associated both with the Sunni and Shi’a denominations, as well as many other currents of Islam. I was particularly drawn to these four ghazals because of the elegant way they depict longing…longing for Truth, longing for Reason, longing for Kindness, Love, and—always—longing for the Beloved. Also, as I was reading, I found that many of Hâfez’s poems seem to have in common beautiful metaphors of transience: fire, breath, breeze. Above all, I have tried desperately to remain true to the intonation of the language, and to Hâfez’s poetic instinct. Each poem unfortunately had to be shortened to create a concert piece, but I encourage anyone to seek out the original poems in their entirety. Special thanks to my friend Behrooz Alavi for his insights into Hâfez’s poetry, its pronunciation, and its rich performance practice. The music is my own, and not authentically Persian. It is my interpretation of an assortment of influences, including my study of Persian speech, scales, and modes, but perhaps also from my distant memory of being four years old and dancing—joyfully and tirelessly—with my Greek relatives to music that whirled feverishly around me. From Behind the Caravan: Songs of Hâfez is dedicated, with great admiration, to The Rose Ensemble. – Abbie Betinis