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Friday, January 9, 2015

Seattle Pro Musica - History/Repertoire 1973-1980

As I've often stated, my work with the many musicians that made up Seattle Pro Musica in the first part of my career was my real graduate education (nothing against either my work at the UW for an MM or at CCM for my DMA!).

I started the groups that became SPM because I had repertoire I really wanted to do and starting my own group was the way to get there.

Eric Ericson has stated that repertoire is how a choir and conductor grow and I certainly agree. It was through the combination of learning, rehearsing, and conducting this repertoire with the wonderful people who sang and played with me that I was able to learn as much as I did during those seven years from age 23 to 30.

Season One - 1973-74

In 1973 I started a chamber choir, but it was under the auspices of the Thalia organization (which is still going strong as an orchestra). In reality, they didn't supply much—I did all the organization, auditions, found rehearsal and performance spaces, etc. They did help with players for our first concert, which included the Vivaldi Magnificat. I don't have programs for the first season (with one exception), just the posters, and all dates aren't clear. But this was the beginning:

Dec. 9, 1973
Mendelssohn Aus tiefer Not (with David DiFiore, organist)
Vivaldi - Magnificat

I don't have a date for the second program, but it was done in the Spring at the Seattle Art Museum's concert hall with Gary Hatle, pianist:
Schumann - Zigeunerleben
Schubert - Der Gondelfahrer
Schubert - Spanisches Liederspiel
Brahms - Zigeunerlieder

May 26, 1974 - The third program was advertised as "Three Early Baroque Magnificats by Heinrich Schütz & Claudio Monteverdi. I know one of the Schütz settings was the so-called Uppsala Magnificat, the only setting of his in Latin. We likely did one of the German settings as well. And it's very likely that we did the Monteverdi setting with organ from the 1610 Vespers—the edition I would have used then was . . . interesting . . . with an intricately written out ornamented organ part. Wouldn't think of it today!

Season Two - 1974-75

Since we weren't getting real support from Thalia, we struck out on our own, renaming the group the Aeolian Singers (a name which stuck for several seasons). I also began a group called the Seattle Bach Ensemble that fall (it became just the Bach Ensemble in 1978, when we started performances in Bellevue as well). It was modeled after Helmuth Rilling's Kantat-Fest programs at the Gedächtniskirche in Stuttgart (I'd attended rehearsals for one in 1972). Essentially, anyone who wanted could come on Saturday and rehearse a Bach cantata and then sing in the service on Sunday, which they did once a month. My idea was to do something similar, but have an auditioned group to sing and to do the performances Sunday evening, which we did at University Baptist Church the first year, afterwards at Central Lutheran Church. We auditioned for both singers and instrumentalists (a number of singers sang in both choirs) and got a very good response. The choir rehearsed Saturday morning and then overlapped with the orchestra, so we could run the choruses and chorale with everyone. I then rehearsed the orchestra and soloists. Our dress rehearsal was before the program Sunday evening. Arias with one or two obbligato instruments or just continuo were often rehearsed beforehand, usually at the home of Howard Hoyt, who was our regular continuo player.

I was crazy enough to think of doing two cantatas each month, which was far too much. It only lasted that season. However, I was beginning to think of what I was doing as something long-term, not just as something to do as a student. So we changed course and combined both groups late in the season for the Bach Mass in B Minor . . . and then incorporated in the summer of 1975 as a non-profit organization as Seattle Pro Musica—that being the umbrella organization under which these two ensembles would fit.

Unfortunately, I don't have all programs from that time period, so can't identify all repertoire. The Aeolian Singers program for January 26 is very challenging, so perhaps that was the first of the season. But here goes:

Nov. 3, 1974 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #129 Gelobet sei der Herr

Nov. 17, 1974 - Cantata #93 Wer nur den lieben Gott lasst walten

Dec. 1, 1974 - Cantata #36 Schwingt Freudig euch empor

Dec. 15, 1974 - Cantata #110 Unser Mund sei voll Lachens

Jan. 19, 1975 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #143 Lobe den Herrn, meine Seele & 51 (Nancy Zylstra, soloist for Jauchzet Gott)

January 26, 1975 - Aeolian Singers (also at University Baptist)
Clemens non Papa - Dona nobis pacem
Stravinsky - Ave Maria
Palestrina - Sicut cervus
Purcell - Rejoice in the Lord Alway (with strings)
Mozart -  Ave verum
Vivaldi - Domine, ad adjuvandum me (double string orchestra)
- intermission-
Britten - Choral Dances from 'Gloriana'
Poulenc - Un soir de neige
Copland - Long Time Ago & Ching-a-ring Chaw

Feb. 2 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #177 - Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Feb. 16 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #46 - Schauet doch und Sehet

June 6, 1975 - Mass in B Minor - University Presbyterian Church
Soloists were Diane Christopherson and Nancy Zylstra, sopranos; Margaret Russell, alto; Horace Beasley, tenor; and Gene Lysinger, bass.

Season Three - 1975-76

The third season was the first where we were fully incorporated and operated a board. It's also the first for which we had a season brochure, rather than individual flyers for concerts or groups of concerts. And . . . it was much more ambitious. The Aeolian Singers had a full program of five concerts, the Bach Ensemble a full season as well, plus a new group called the Pro Musica Singers (a smaller ensemble—that lasted only this one season), and a Bach Festival planned for the summer with the B Minor Mass at the center.

Some of the ambition came because of a study tour I'd done with Bob Scandrett to England in the summer of 1975. Watching English groups (who worked incredibly quickly) I wanted my singers (and me) to be able to work more quickly. I also had the sense that whether we had 5 rehearsals or 10 (this is an exaggeration, of course) we'd accomplish much the same—if pressure was on, we'd work fast . . . if we had more time, we'd take more time. Not entirely true, but the group learned to work much faster.

Oct. 5, 1975 - Bach Ensemble (now at Central Lutheran Church) Cantata #80 Ein Feste Burg
After this program I got the following letter from composer Alan Hovaness, who attended:
Nov. 2, 1975 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #106 Gottes Zeit is die allerbeste Zeit, along with Telemann's Locke nur, Erde for soprano (Nancy Zylstra), recorder (James West) and continuo (we started doing other works on the programs in addition to the cantata)

Nov. 9, 1975 - Aeolian Singers - St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
C.P.E. Bach Magnnificat
Handel - Dixit Dominus
(soloists Zylstra, Christopherson, Russell, and Beasley)

Nov. 23 - Pro Musica Singers
Byrd - Mass for four voices (12 singers)
Bernstein - Choruses from 'The Lark' (sung with 7 solo voices)

Dec. 7, 1975 - Bach Ensemble
Bach Magnificat

Dec. 19 - Aeolian Singers - University Methodist Temple
Jean Langlais The Nativity (solo organ - David DiFiore)
Tippett - Magnificat (choir & organ)
Distler - Singet Frisch und Wohlgemut
Marcel Dupre  - Sketch in B-flat Minor (solo organ)
Poulenc - Four Christmas Motets

Jan. 4, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #147 Herz und Mund und That und Leben

Feb. 1, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #8 Liebster Gott and a recorder sonata by Telemann

Feb 20, 1976 - Aeolian Singers with Anita Rodin, pianist - University Methodist Temple
Mendelssohn - Psalm 100 Jauchzet dem Herrn; Die Nachtigall; Richte mich, Gott
Schubert - Der Gondelfahrer
Schumann - Zigeunerleben
Brahms - Motet, Op. 29 #1 -Es ist das Heil
             - Motet, Op. 29 #2 - Schaffe in mir, Gott
Wolf - Sechs Geistliche Lider

March 7, 1976 - Bach Ensemble
Fiocco (arr. Harry Schulman) - Adagio for Oboe and Strings (Ivan Schulman, oboe)
Marcello - Cello Sonata in C Major (Germaine Morgan, cello)
Bach - Sinfonia to Cantata #156 (Ivan Schulman, oboe)
Bach - Cantata #112 - Der Herr is mein getreuer Hirt

March 9, 1976 - an essentially orchestral program with singers from the Aeolian Singers for the Vaughan Williams
Telemann - Concerto for Four Violins
Rossini - String Sonata #3 in G
Vaughan Williams - Flos Campi (Janet Lynch, viola solo)

March 12, 1976 - we presented the Gallery Singers, conductor Frederick Carter, at Central Lutheran Church

April 4, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Bach - Easter Oratorio

Somewhere in here a a recital of Baroque solo and chamber music (Bach, Telemann, Pepusch, Quantz, and Handel)

April 13, 1976 - Aeolian Singers
Monteverdi - 1610 Vespers (my first performance of this great piece)

May 2, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata #146 Wir müssen durch viel Trübsal

June 6, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - Cantata#172 Erschallet ihr Lieder

June 11, 1976 - Aeolian Singers - St. Stephen's Episcopal Church
Purcell - Come, Ye Sons of Art
Bach - Lobet den Herrn
Debussy - Trois Chansons de Charles D'Orleans
Holst - I Love My Love
Vaughan Williams - The Dark-eyed Sailor
P.D.Q. Bach - The Queen to Me a Royal Pain Doth Give and My Bonnie Lass She Smellelth

Then the summer Bach Festival with 3 concerts:
July 21, 1976 - chamber music by La Chantarelle: music by Rameau, Bach, Couperin, and Marais
July 22, 1976 - an organ recital by Howard Hoyt at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Mercer Island
August 3, 1976 - Bach Mass in B Minor at Meany Hall, University of Washington

Season Four - 1976-77

Still a few missing (or undated) programs. I also had to change cantatas a couple times because music didn't arrive in time. Not so many Bach cantatas published with parts and easy to get! We sometimes used handwritten parts from the Drinker Library in Philadelphia, which was often interesting since there were frequent mistakes.

Oct. 3, 1976 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Fili mi, Absalon with the Seattle Trombone Quartet and Peter Ashbaugh, bass
Cantata #20 had to be substituted, as music for Cantata 43 didn't arrive

Nov. 9, 1976 - Aeolian Singers - Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
Mozart - Epistle Sonata in C (K. 336) for organ and strings
Mozart - Requiem, ed. Beyer

Nov. 14, 1976 - Bach Ensemble - at the German Church on Capital Hill
Handel - Organ concerto, Op. 4, #2 (Randall Jay McCarty, soloist)
Bach - Cantata #43 (finally!) Gott fähret auf mit Jachzen

Dec. 5, 1976  - Bach Ensemble (back at Central Lutheran)
Corelli - Christmas Concerto Grosso
Bach - Magnificat

Jan. 9, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Mozart - Exsultate, Jubilate (Nancy Zylstra, soloist)
Bach - Cantata #105 Herr, gehe nicht ins Gerichts

Jan. 25, 1977 - Aeolian Singers
Bach - Cantata #106 - Gottes Zeit ist die Allerbeste Zeit
Haydn - Part Songs (Rick Asher, pianist)
Hindemith - Six Chansons
P.D.Q. Bach - Two Madrigals from "The Triumphs of Thusnelda"

Feb. 6, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Concerto for Four Violins alone
Schütz - Der Zwölfjährige Jesus im Tempel
Cantata #41 Jesu, nun sei gepreiset

April 5, 1977 - Aeolian Singers + Bach Ensemble - First Presbyterian Church
Bach - St. Matthew Passion

May 1, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Solo cantata #28 from Der Harmonische Gottesdienst
Bach - Cantata #8 - Liebster Gott, wann werd' ich sterben

May 31, 1977 - Aeolian Singers, University Methodist Temple - In Memoriam Benjamin Britten
A Hymn of St. Columba
Jubilate Deo
Festival Te Deum
Choral Dances from 'Gloriana'
Simple Symphony
Rejoice in the Lamb

June 5, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Concerto in G for Four Violins
Cantata #27 - Herr Jesu Christ, wahr'r Mensch und Gott

Season Five - 1977-78

Season Five saw a new ensemble, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra, which was made up of most of the same players that had played for the Bach Ensemble or for the major works I did with the Aeolian Singers, but wanted to do chamber orchestral literature on their own (I did, too, of course!). The Aeolian Singers entered their last season of going by that (not great) name—after this season they became the Pro Musica Singers. We also sponsored a recital series, primarily with Nancy Zylstra this season.

Oct. 2, 1977 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Freuet euch des Herrn
J.C. Bach - Arsinda (concert area for soprano—Nancy Zylstra—and solo flute, oboe, and violin with orchestra)
Bach - Cantata #11 - The Ascension Oratorio

Oct. 21- Recital Series - Seattle Concert Theatre
A complete performance of Wolf's Italienische Liederbuch with Nancy Zylstra, soprano; Michael Deviny (now Delos), baritone; and Christopher Arpin, piano

Nov. 6, 1977 - Bach Ensemble (we also did a run-out of this program on Nov. 30 to Mercer Island)
Schütz - Die mit tränen säen, Saul
Alessandro Scarlatti - Su le sponde del Tebro
Bach - Cantata #18 - Gleich wie der Regen

Nov. 20, 1977 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra - Seattle Concert Theatre
Poulenc - Deux marches et un Intermede
Handel - Concerto Grosso, op. 3, #1 in B-Flat
Rossini - String Sonata #3 in C Major
Mozart - Piano Concerto in D Minor (K. 466) - Margaret Irwin-Brandon, fortepiano

Dec. 4, 1977 - Guest program of chamber music by Fiori Musicali (a recorder/harpsichord duo—Philip Dickey and Mary Ann Hagen—with guest violinist, recorder, and gamba)
Music by Cima, Frescobaldi, Scarlatti, Handel, Vivaldi, and Telemann

Dec. 9 & 10, 1977 - Aeolian Singers & Chamber Orchestra - Meany Hall, University of Washington
Handel - Messiah (complete)

Jan. 8, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Singet dem Herrn
Telemann - Concerto in E Minor for recorder and traverso
Bach - Cantata #39 Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot

Jan. 28, 1978 - Recital series program with Nancy Zylstra

Feb. 5, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - 3 arias from Harmonisches Gottesdienst (Zylstra, Philip Dickey on recorder, and Stephen Stubbs on lute)
Schütz - Musikalische Exequien, part III
Bach - Cantata #8 - Liebster Gott

Feb. 19, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Bartok - Rumanian Folk Dances
Elgar - Serenade for Strings
Mozart - Symphony #29 in A Major
Vivaldi - Laudate Pueri (solo cantata with Zylstra)

March 22, 1978 - Aeolian Singers, Bach Ensemble, Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Bach - St. John Passion

April 2, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Suite in A minor
Schütz - Herr, unser Herrscher
Bach - Cantata #182 - Himmelskönig, sei willkommen

May 7, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Schütz - Deus Misereatur Nostri
Vivaldi - Concerto in G minor for two mandolins
Bach - Cantata #26 - Ach wie flüchtig, ach wie nichtig

May 21, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Vivaldi - Concerto for four Violins, op. 3, #10
Rossini - Sonata for Strings, #6, in D Major
Mozart - Serenade #12 in C minor (K. 388)
Haydn - Cello Concerto in C (Ron Wilson, soloist)

June 4, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Bach - Cantata #76 - Die Himmel erzählen
Fiocco - Lamentations
Telemann - Trauer-Kantate Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin

June 25, 1978 - Aeolian Singers - St. Mark's Cathedral
Monteverdi - Vespers of 1610
This was a much better performance than in 1976, done as a pre-convention event for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists.

Season Six - 1978-79
This season saw the Bach Ensemble move to period instruments and do concerts twice, once in Seattle and once in Bellevue. This was a major change and we started paying both singers (we went to 12) and players. The recital series was much more varied, with different musicians on each recital. I also began work on my MM in conducting at the University of Washington in this year.

Oct. 1, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
J.C. Bach - Arsinda
Telemann - Laudate Jehova, omnes gentes
Handel - fourth "Halle" trio sonata in F
Bach - Cantata #66 - Erfreut euch, ihr Herzen

Oct. 15, 1978 - Recital Series
Michael Deviny, baritone with Robert DeCeunynck, piano - Lieder

Oct. 29, 1978 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Haydn - Octet in F for winds
J.N. Gayer - Symphony in E-flat
Sibelius - Romanza in C for Strings
Stravinsky - Eight Instrumental Miniatures

Nov. 6, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Bach - Lobet den Herrn
Corelli - Trio Sonata XII in D
Vivaldi - Concerto in G Major for two mandolins
Bach - Cantata #33 Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ

Nov. 17, 1978 - Recital Series
Gregg Carder, tenor - baroque repertoire with Ken Peterson and Vern Nicodemus

Dec. 3, 1978 - Bach Ensemble
Corelli - Fatto per la notte di natale
Bach - Magnificat (in the Eb version with the Christmas interpolations)

Dec. 16 & 17, 1978 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra - Meany Hall, UW 
Bach - Christmas Oratorio 

Jan. 7, 1979 - Bach Ensemble with Duo Geminiani (Stanley Ritchie & Elisabeth Wright)
All-Bach program:
Lobet den Herrn
Brandenburg Concerto #4 in G
Harpsichord Concerto in E
Sonata in b minor (Duo Geminiani)
Cantata # 196 -  Der Herr denket an uns

Feb. 4, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Cantata #199 - Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut (Nancy Zylstra)
Telemann  - Sonata in e minor for two transverse flutes (Janet See and Sand Dalton)
Bach - Jesu, meine Freude

Feb. 23, 1979 - Recital Series
Carter Enyeart, cello
Bach unaccompanied suites, numbers 2, 3, and 6

Feb. 25, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra - First Presbyterian Church
Mozart - Mass in C Minor

March 4, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Vivaldi - Concerto in C Minor for recorder (David Ohannesian)
Frescobaldi - Four Correnti & Toccata in F (Margret Cornell, now Gries, harpsichord)
Bach - Cantata #78 - Jesu, der du meine Seele

March 23, 1979 - Recital Series
Nancy Zylstra & Stephen Stubbs

April 1, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Du aber, Daniel, gehe hin
Loeillet - Quartet in B Minor for two flutes, two recorders & continuo
Cantata #182 - Himmelskönig, sei willkommen

April 8, 1979 - Pro Musica Chamber Orchestra
Salieri - Symhony #19 in D
Not really sure of this program–I don't have one and the brochure lists Mozart's g minor, but it's on the June 3 program . . . perhaps this one was cancelled.

May 4, 1979 - Recital Series
Ronald Wilson, cello
Works by Boccherini, Beethoven, Ginastera & Rachmaninoff

May 6, 1979 - Bach Ensemble
Telemann - Erhalte mich, O Herr, in deinem Werke (I sang this one)
Frescobaldi - Canzona #2 in C & #5 in g minor
Bach - Cantata #75 - Die Elenden sollen essen 

June 3, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Mozart - Symphony #40 in g minor
Britten - Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings (Howard Fankhauser, tenor; James Weaver, horn)
Mendelssohn - Richte mich, Gott & Jauchzet dem Herrn alle Welt
Brahms - Vier Ziegeunerlieder, op. 112
Ravel - Trois Chansons
Stallcop - Concerto for Double Bass (premiere), James Biedel, bass

Season Seven - 1979-80
This was to be my final season with Seattle Pro Musica. I was finishing up my MM at the University of Washington, had begun conducting for the Pacific Northwest Bach Festival in Spokane, WA in January (a period-instrument festival with instrumentalists from all over the US and, from 1980, the Dutch baritone Max van Egmond was a regular soloist—I would conduct at this festival through 1985), and ended up taking a position at Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts starting in the fall of 1980. We didn't have a recital series this season. The Bach Ensemble did fewer concerts (expensive when all musicians are paid), but we brought in Carlo Novi to lead the strings and Stanley Ritchie as well for one concert.

Oct. 18, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra (First Presbyterian Church)
Beethoven - Symphony #1 in C
Haydn - Harmoniemesse

Nov. 4, 1979 -  Bach Ensemble, with Carlo Novi, concertmaster
J.C. Bach - Symphony in G Minor (op. VI, #6)
Carissimi - Jephte
Haydn - Partita in F (Hob. II, #23)
Bach - Cantata #1 - Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern

Dec. 7, 8, 9, 1979 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Handel - Organ Concerto #5 in F Major (David DiFiore)
Handel - Messiah (Christmas portion)

Jan. 12, 13, 1980 - Bach Ensemble with the Duo Geminiani & Janet See (baroque flute)
E Major Sonata for Traverso & continuo
G Major Sonata for Violin & continuo
Cantata #12 - Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen
Jesu, meine Freude
Brandenburg Concerto #5

Feb. 24, 1980 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Wolf - Italian Serenade
Clemens non Papa - Dona nobis pacem
Palestrina - Sicut cervus
Hassler - Ad Dominum cum tribularer
Mendelssohn - Four part-songs from op. 48
Poulenc - Salve Regina & Exultate Deo
Schubert - Symphony #5 in B-Flat

Apr. 20 1980 - Bach Ensemble, with Carlo Novi, concertmaster
Cantata #39 - Brich dem Hungrigen dein Brot
(sorry, don't have this program, so only know the cantata that was performed)

May 17,18, 1980 - Pro Musica Singers & Chamber Orchestra
Bach - Mass in B Minor
A fitting way to conclude 7 seasons of wonderful music with great people!

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