St. Charles Singers to Open 35th Season with Mozart Festival Weekend
St. Charles, Illinois
Professional chamber choir St. Charles Singers, conducted by Jeffrey Hunt, will open its 35th concert season with a three-day Mozart Festival Weekend August 24-26, 2018, joined by the Metropolis Chamber Orchestra and guest soloist, soprano Michelle Areyzaga.
Each festival day will feature a different concert of music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, including two new installments of the choir’s Mozart Journey, its multiyear excursion through Mozart’s complete sacred choral music.
All three concerts will take place at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles.
The Mozart Journey XIII concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, August 24, will include Mozart’s Missa in C Major, K. 262, notable for its large complement of woodwind and brass instruments; “Grabmusik,” K. 42, in which an Angel (soprano) and human soul (bass) sing solos and duets;
and sacramental motet “Tantum ergo” in B-flat Major, K. 142. Areyzaga will sing in “Grabmusik” and “Tantum ergo.”
The Metropolis Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Hunt, will take center stage at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, August 25, for an all-instrumental concert of Mozart’s orchestral music. The program will include the Overture to Mozart’s unfinished opera “Lo sposo deluso” (“The Deluded Bridegroom”), K. 430; the humorous Serenade in D Major, K. 320 (“Post Horn”); and Symphony in C Major, No. 41, K. 551 (“Jupiter”), Mozart’s final symphony and one of his greatest creations, bursting with action and musical colors.
The Mozart Festival Weekend’s finale will be the Mozart Journey XIV concert at 4 p.m. on Sunday, August 26. The program will include Mozart’s powerful Missa in C Minor, K. 427, a cantata-style Baroque mass inspired by the music of J. S. Bach; the intense Kyrie in D Minor, K. 341, whose unusual orchestration includes four horns; and arias for soprano and tenor soloists from Mozart’s oratorio “Davidde penitente,” K. 469. Areyzaga will be heard in the C-Minor Mass and the soprano aria from “Davidde penitent.”
Areyzaga sings with “a luminous radiance from top to bottom,” writes the Journal of Singing. “Beyond the exquisite sound she produces, the soprano also has a limitless palette.” The New York Times has hailed her as “an appealing, expressive” singer. The American soprano has performed as soloist with the New York Festival of Song, New York City Opera, New York’s Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Chicago Opera Theater, Chicago Ensemble, Chicago Master Singers, and other organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad.
A former chorister with the St. Charles Singers, Areyzaga auditioned for and earned a spot in the choir while a high school senior, becoming the ensemble’s youngest-ever member. “Her voice was remarkable,” Hunt says. “A natural gift.”
Jonathan Saylor, a music professor at Wheaton College, will present a 30-minute preconcert lecture one hour before each performance.
Free Festival Events August 25
In addition to the three main festival concerts, which are ticketed, the St. Charles Singers is presenting free Mozart-related events, open to all, on Saturday, August 25.
Meredith Taylor Du Bon, a certified yoga instructor and soprano with the St. Charles Singers, will lead a “Yoga to Mozart” session at 9 a.m. at Baker Community Center, 101 S. 2nd Street, St Charles. Participants will practice yoga to a soundtrack of Mozart recordings.
Starting at 10:30 a.m., the public is invited to an open rehearsal of a Mozart Journey concert with the St. Charles Singers and Metropolis Chamber Orchestra at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles.
Pianist Robert Vander Schaaf and flutist Trish MacLachlan will perform a recital of music by Mozart and other composers at 2 p.m. at Baker Community Center.
Members of the St. Charles Singers will perform solos and duets from Mozart operas at a 4 p.m. recital at Baker Community Center.
Tickets and Information
Single tickets to each of the three main Mozart Festival Weekend concerts are $35 adult general admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students. A Wolfgang Pack festival subscription includes admission to all three concerts for $75.
Tickets and general information about the St. Charles Singers are available at www.stcharlessingers.com or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.
Mozart Festival Singers
St. Charles Singers ensemble members performing in the Mozart Festival Weekend concerts include sopranos Jeanne Fornari and Alexandra Jimenez of Batavia; Ingrid Burrichter, Chicago; Marybeth Kurnat, DeKalb; Laura Johnson, Hanover Park; Cynthia Spiegel, La Fox; Meredith Taylor Du Bon and Jennifer Gingrich, Naperville; AnDréa James and Jessica Palmisano, St. Charles; and Karen Lukose, Winfield.
Altos are Margaret Fox and Valerie Heinkel-Bollero of Batavia; Nicole Tolentino, Carol Stream; Elaine Bennington, Geneva; Liz Hutchinson Toniolo, Glen Ellyn; Julie Popplewell and Chelsea Rhoades, North Aurora; Bridget Kancler, Oak Park; Christina Bernardoni, West Dundee; and Debra Wilder, Wheeling.
Festival tenors include Brennan Runzo of Chicago; Rob Campbell, DeKalb; Dallin Hwang, Bryan Kunstman, and Bradley Staker, Elburn; Gregor King, North Aurora; Christopher Jackson, Rolling Meadows; Aaron James, St. Charles; David Hunt, Wayne; and Steve Williamson, West Chicago.
Basses are Jess Koehn, Phil Nohl, and Michael Thoms of Aurora; Brandon Fox, Batavia; Antonio Quaranta, Carol Stream; Nate Coon, Crystal Lake; Andrew Toniolo, Glen Ellyn; Chris DiMarco, Naperville; Michael Popplewell, North Aurora; Drayton Eggleson, Sycamore; and Brian Jozwiak, Woodstock.
St. Charles Singers
Founded and directed by Jeffrey Hunt, the St. Charles Singers is a professional chamber choir dedicated to choral music in all its forms. The mixed-voice choir launched in St. Charles in 1984 as the Mostly Madrigal Singers. ClassicsToday.com calls the ensemble “one of North America’s outstanding choirs,” citing “charisma and top-notch musicianship” that “bring character and excitement to each piece.” Chicago Tribune classical music critic John von Rhein has described the ensemble as “splendidly disciplined, beautifully responsive” and proclaimed, “Chamber chorus singing doesn’t get much better than this.”
Photo of Michelle Areyzaga by Alicia Johnson