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Galuppi and Durante in Lake Forest, Illinois

Location: Illinois, USA
Choir type: Choirs with Religious Affiliation
Voicing: Mixed
The Sanctuary Choir and soloists of the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Forest are currently preparing to present an exciting spring concert, which will include the modern premiere performances of four pieces by Francesco Durante.
 
Durante was born in Frattamaggiore on March 31, 1684 and died in Naples on September 30, 1755, making him an almost exact contemporary of JS Bach (1685-1750) and GF Handel (1685-1759). Unlike these Baroque masters, however, Durante was a leading figure in the development of the Italian Galant style. The compositional school that he led would become the stepping stone between the so-called Baroque and Classical musical eras. During his tenure as primo maestro at the Neapolitan conservatories of St. Maria di Loreto and St. Onofrio, Durante gained a reputation as the finest teacher of his day. His students included such composers as Pergolesi, Traetta, Sacchini, and Fenaroli.
 
The church commissioned the modern editions of three solo motets and a choral mass from The Galant Masters Project, a research endeavor seeking to return the music of the Italian Galant to its rightful place in the repertoire. Most of this music has been forgotten since the world’s musical focus shifted to Germans such as Haydn and Mozart near the end of the eighteenth century. The project is being led by conductor and musicologist Thomas Tropp and in its first year has published fifteen pieces of previously neglected music. The commission was brought in memory of Howard Stotler, a long-time choir member and ardent supporter of music both at First Presbyterian and throughout the Chicago area.
 
The three motets will be performed by guest soloists. Durante’s setting of Confitebor tibi, Domine (Psalm 111) is scored for mezzo-soprano soloist and string orchestra. It will be sung by Karen Brunssen, an internationally recognized soloist and clinician, and Associate Professor of Voice and Opera at Northwestern University. Durante’s settings of the Marian Antiphons Alma redemptoris Mater and Salve Regina will be sung by David Govertsen, a critically acclaimed rising star in the opera world and a current ensemble member at the Ryan Opera Center of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, a program that was also strongly supported by Mr. Stotler.
 
The First Presbyterian Sanctuary Choir will present two pieces at this concert. The opening work will be a short setting of Domine ad adjuvandum me festina written in 1762 by Baldassare Galuppi for the choir and orchestra of St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. This piece was commissioned and recently premiered by the Congregational Oratorio Society of Palo Alto, California. After the motets are sung, the choir will present a premiere of its own, performing Durante’s Messa a Quattro Voci con Strumenti, a large-scale Neapolitan mass setting scored for oboes, trumpets, strings, organ, and choir. The choir’s quartet of professional section leaders will be the featured soloists on this mass.
 
The orchestra for this concert will be members of the Chicago Galant Consort, a professional early music band specially created as the resident ensemble for The Galant Masters Project. Comprised of the Chicago area’s finest early music specialist instrumentalists and vocalists, the Consort has released two full-length albums which are available from iTunes, Amazon, ChoralCDs.org, and most other commercial music outlets.
 
The concert will take place in the First Presbyterian Church sanctuary at 2:00 on Sunday, April 21. The church is located at 700 North Sheridan Road in Lake Forest, Illinois. There will be no admission charge, but a freewill offering will be collected to help raise scholarship funds for the choir’s 2014 tour to Latvia, Estonia, and Finland.
 
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