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SF Renaissance Voices Announces 13-14 Season, "Kol Israel: The Voice of Judaism in Early Music"

Location: California, USA
San Francisco Renaissance Voices is pleased to announce our upcoming season for 2013-14, “Kol Israel:  The Voice of Judaism in Early Music”, which will continue our tradition of exploring and performing the music of the Renaissance and related periods outside of the traditional European canon.  Our audiences this year will experience rare and seldom-heard Jewish music from the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods including a US premiere. In addition, our audiences' favorite annual events return including our fourth annual Boar’s Head Festival & Mid-Winter Gala, Hallowe'en Memorial Singalong, this year giving our audiences the opportunity to sing Fauré's Requiem along with us – and we are delighted to again present our free Festival of Lessons & Carols for the holiday season!  For tickets, times and venues throughout the Bay Area for the upcoming season, visit our website:  www.SFRVoices.org 
 
SEPTEMBER 28, 29 & OCTOBER 6 – Music of the Final Judgment and Rejoicing in the Torah with guest artist Diana Rowan, Celtic harp
Our annual All Souls/All Saints program takes a twist this year with this exciting season opener.  The celebrations of the Jewish New Year concludes each fall with the final days of Sukkot:  the festivals of Hoshana Rabbah—the final day of the season of repentance, celebrated with penitential prayers, processionals with willow branches and prayers for rain—and Simchat Torah, an exuberant celebration that includes dancing with the Torah scrolls and festive reading of the sacred scriptures.  In the Renaissance and Baroque periods, these festivals were celebrated in some European communities with joyous musical celebrations, often collaborations between Jewish and Christian composers.  This concert set features rarely-heard cantatas and motets for the season, including Carlo Grossi’s 1681 Cantata Ebraica (Venice), Avraham Caceres’ L’Eil Eilim (Amsterdam), and selections from the dramatic 1733 Italian cantata Dio, Clemenza e Rigore (Casale Monferrato), as well as medieval Jewish chant and motets for the holy days by Salamone Rossi and Cristiano Lidarti.  This concert also features the music of the Psalms and Songs of Solomon by Renaissance masters as well as by our very own Music Director and noted composer Todd Jolly. 
 
FEBRUARY 1 – A Prelude for Valentine’s Day with Jarring Sounds
Our audiences liked Jarring Sounds’ concert so much last season we just had to invite them again this season!  When San Francisco Renaissance Voices’ lutenist Adam Cockerham joins mezzo-soprano Danielle Reutter-Harrah (American Bach Soloists, San Francisco Symphony Chorus), they form the duo Jarring Sounds.  Join them for this concert of airs de coeur and other music from the Renaissance through the Contemporary periods as a prelude to Valentine’s Day. 
 
FEBRUARY 15 & 16 – Klezmer Baroque - with San Francisco Renaissance Dancers
Our resident dance troupe, under the direction of Jennifer Meller, takes the stage for this performance that begins with traditional Renaissance and Baroque dances performed to music by Jewish composers of the period.  After intermission our dancers present traditional and contemporary Jewish dance set to the music of klezmer; a tradition of the Jews of Ashkenaz. Today's klezmer is a rich blend of traditional and jazz instrumental music characterized by expressive melodies reminiscent of the human voice - complete with laughing and weeping. 
 
MARCH 15, 16, 22 & 23 – Esther/T’shuat Yisrael al y’dei Ester  (Cristiano Giuseppe Lidarti 1730-c1793)
Our Opera Early & Ancient Series returns with this exciting US premiere of the story of Queen Esther and her rescue of the Jewish people from the murderous designs of the wicked Haman.  Composed by Lidarti, an Austrian composer, born in Vienna of Italian descent, on the Hebrew libretto by Rabbi Jacob Saraval, written for the Jewish community in Amsterdam.  We present this oratorio in semi-staged form with period chamber orchestra.  Completed in 1774, this unique work was unknown in modern times until its discovery in 1998.  This will be the US premiere, sung in the original Hebrew in which it was composed, with full translations provided.  Don’t miss this rare musical celebration during the Purim season with this family-friendly production (and do come in costume and bring your noisemakers!) 
 
MAY 25 & 26, JUNE 7 & 8 – Dedication of the Synagogue and Other Jewish Celebrations
Join us for this celebratory finale concert that features the extensive musical ceremony composed by Volunio Gallichi and Francesco Drei for the 1786 dedication of the new synagogue in Siena, Italy, as well as music for weddings, Shabbat and other celebrations.  This concert includes Louis Saladin’s exquisite Canticum Hebraicum, composed for chorus and orchestra in 1670 for the occasion of a circumcision ceremony in Southern France.  All sung in the original Hebrew with full translations provided.  We are joined by San Francisco Renaissance Dancers for this festive ending to our 2013-14 season!
 
We are delighted to have Rabbi Reuben Zellman as our Ethno-Musicology Consultant for our 2013-14 Season.  Rabbi Zellman is currently completing a Master of Music degree at San Francisco State University, specializing in early music and Jewish choral repertoire.  When not singing as a regular member of San Francisco Renaissance Voices he serves as Assistant Rabbi and Music Director at Congregation Beth El in Berkeley, where he is responsible for musical activities ranging from traditional leading of liturgy to directing choral and instrumental ensembles, and teaching Biblical cantillation.  Rabbi Zellman received his BA in linguistics from UC Berkeley, studied classical voice at SFSU, and received his Master's in Hebrew Literature and rabbinical ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles.  He trained in chazzanut (traditional cantorial music and Jewish modal theory) under Cantors David Bentley and Jack Mendelsohn, and has performed as a soloist and chorister with numerous ensembles.  
 
And be sure to join us for our audiences’ annual favorite events! -
 
OCTOBER 31 (FREE) – Hallowe’en Sing-a-Long Fundraiser
Ever wonder what it would be like to sing with San Francisco Renaissance Voices?  Well, here’s your chance!  Join us and our host as Artists-in-Residence, Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, on Hallowe’en for an All Saints/All Souls Sing-a-Long of Fauré's Requiem interposed with readings of remembrance for the dead.   San Francisco Renaissance Voice’s Assistant Music Director, Katherine McKee conducts.  This is no trick!  Entrance to the event is free, however a free-will offering will be taken; and we hope you will treat us with a donation at this moving and uplifting event that benefits San Francisco Renaissance Voices and the music programs at Seventh Avenue. 
 
DECEMBER 21 (FREE) – Family Christmas Concert:  A Festival of Lessons & Carols
Join members of San Francisco Renaissance Voices at Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church, our host as Artists-in-Residence, for a traditional Festival of Lessons & Carols.  This service began in 1918 at King's College (Cambridge, England) and we are delighted to bring this Christmas tradition to you that features holiday pieces performed by our soloists and guest artists, audience carol sing along – and a festive holiday reception to enjoy after the concert! 
 
JANUARY 4 & 5 – Fourth Annual Boar’s Head Festival & Mid-Winter Gala
Don’t miss our most popular event of every season with this grand celebration of Twelfth Night and Mid-Winter presided over by her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I!  The evening begins with a silent auction accompanied by the most delicious appetizers in the shire washed down with mead and wine and continues with an invitation from her Majesty to a musical celebration at her court, conducted by Assistant Music Director Katherine McKee.  This festive end to the Yuletide season - The Boar’s Head – is the world’s oldest continuously celebrated Yuletide feast.  Legend has it that a scholar was studying a book of Aristotle whilst walking through the forest on his way to Midnight Mass.  Suddenly, he was confronted by an angry wild boar.  Having no other weapon, the resourceful Oxonian rammed his metal-bound philosophy book down the throat of the charging animal, whereupon the brute choked to death.  That night the boar's head, finely dressed and garnished, was borne in procession to the dining room, accompanied by carolers singing "in honor of the King of bliss."  We continue this 650 year old tradition with the music and dance of Medieval through Contemporary England, as well as a mysterious, magical guest or two to complete the evening’s entertainment. Our program includes abundant opportunities for you to sing along, and after the concert you’ll enjoy a traditional feast featuring wassail, king’s cake and, meat and vegetable pies.
 
About San Francisco Renaissance Voices:  San Francisco Renaissance Voices made our debut in October 2004 with a "standing room only" performance of Victoria’s Requiem and quickly became a favorite of Early Music audiences in the Bay Area.  Recognized for our imaginative programming, we are the Bay Area’s professional mixed-voice ensemble dedicated to performing and exploring the a cappella choral music of the Renaissance, particularly lesser-known and rarely-performed works, including works outside of the traditional European canon. 
Under Todd Jolly, Music Director and Katherine McKee, Assistant Music Director, in our short existence the group has been featured by the national magazine Early Music America, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, Newsday, USA Today and San Francisco Classical Voice, among others.  In 2010 we were selected as “Best Classical Music” by SFWeekly’s “Best of San Francisco” edition. 
Our Opera Early & Ancient series has garnered special attention including our “Technicolor” East Indian-infused production of Hildegard von Bingen’s Ordo Virtutum ("Hildegard's little-performed musical mantra rang out anew" - Los Angeles Times) and the west coast premiere of William Boyce's Solomon ("The performance was often exciting and even eye-opening ... a performance other groups struggle to achieve on record" - San Francisco Classical Voice); and most recently (June 2013) The San Francisco Examiner exclaimed of our performances of the Ludus Danielis (The Play of Daniel) that, “One could not have asked for a more entertaining spectacle ... a tour de force."
 
Our San Francisco Renaissance Dancers (Jennifer Meller, Director) began in early 2012 by sponsoring a day-long Baroque Dance Workshop led by the internationally-renowned dancer, teacher, and dance scholar Philippa Waite of Consort de Danse Baroque (UK).  The troupe provides dance to our more theatrical performances and our operas as well as performs a dedicated dance program once a season and made their debut with us at the 2012 Berkeley Festival & Exhibition of Early Music.
 
Currently Artists-in-Residence at Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church (San Francisco), individually the singers of San Francisco Renaissance Voices have also performed with such groups as American Bach Soloists, California Bach Society, Carmel Bach Festival, Chanticleer, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony Chorus and the Berkeley/West Edge, West Bay, and San Francisco Operas.  For more information, visit the San Francisco Renaissance Voices website:  www.SFRVoices.org
 
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