Summer Singers will perform Handel blockbusters at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral

08/16/2014 6:00 PM

08/16/2014 11:00 PM

Of all the composers of the Baroque, George Frideric Handel had the greatest flair for extravagant dramatics and pompous pageantry.

(And personally, I love pompous pageantry.)

The Summer Singers of Kansas City will perform Handel’s “Dettingen Te Deum,” “Water Music” and “Coronation Anthems,” three of Handel’s showiest works, Sunday at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral.

William Baker, founder and conductor of the Summer Singers, will lead the program, which features excellent soloists, including soprano Sarah Tannehill Anderson, alto Kristee Haney, tenor David Adams and bass Joshua Lawlor.

The concert will open with the “Coronation Anthems,” which Handel wrote for the coronation of King George II.

Anyone who likes “Messiah” is certain to like these grand, choral blockbusters.

“The opening wall of sound that marks the choral entrance to ‘Zadok the Priest’ is one of the most exciting moments in Baroque choral music,” Baker said.

“Dettingen Te Deum” is another choral masterpiece that deserves to be much better known.

“The ‘Dettingen Te Deum’ has been on my bucket list for over 30 years,” Baker said. “It was recommended to me by a friend who had retired after many years as a university choral conductor. He told me it’s a great work with trumpets, timpani, and thrilling, majestic choruses. It’s just good, clean fun.”

As is “Water Music.” In July 1717, King George I and a small group of aristocrats floated down the Thames on a barge. To make the cruise extra-special, the king commissioned Handel to write music to accompany them.

A group of 50 musicians was on a separate barge playing Handel’s delightful airs as the two boats made their way down the Thames. Londoners of all classes gathered near the river to enjoy the music. George I was so pleased he had Handel repeat the concert on the return trip up the river.

As a Handelian bonus, Tannehill Anderson will sing “I Know That My Redeemer Liveth” from “Messiah.”

“Honestly, it is perfect for Sarah’s tenderly beautiful and exquisitely sweet voice,” Baker said. “I programmed it just because I want to hear her sing it.”

2 p.m. Sunday. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $15-$20. Tickets at the door or www.festivalsingers.org.

Black House Collective

The Black House Collective, described by founder Hunter Long as “Kansas City’s new music laboratory,” will present the world premiere of five new chamber operas Friday at the Atkins Auditorium in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

“‘Entanglement: Love on Film’ is our second New Operas project,” Long said. “The first one last year was at Paragraph Gallery. This year we were able to get a little better funding, so we were able to make it an international competition, but it’s taking place in Kansas City.

“Composers from all over the world submitted their work, and then we picked four of them. So they got to write operas and they’re coming here to get their operas made.”

Each opera is between 15 and 20 minutes long and is based on a love story from cinema. A five-piece orchestra and four singers will perform while romantic scenes from “Chocolat,” “Lost in Translation,” “Cleopatra,” “Sherman’s March” and “L’Etoile De Mer” are shown.

“Basically we perform as the film is going on,” Long said. “The operas are meant to happen with the projected films. If you’ve ever seen Philip Glass do Jean Cocteau’s ‘La Belle et la Bete,’ it’s basically just like that.

“The films are all very different. All the composers are incredibly different, too. They’re from all over the world and have very different styles. It should be very cool.”

6:30 p.m. Friday. Atkins Auditorium, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. $15. Tickets at the door or visit www.blackhouse.typepad.com.

Mendelssohn’s ‘Elijah’

Felix Mendelssohn loved the oratorios of Johann Sebastian Bach and Handel.

In 1829, Mendelssohn conducted the first performance of Bach’s St. Matthew passion since Bach’s death in 1750, and Mendelssohn also prepared a scholarly edition of some of Handel’s most popular oratorios.

Mendelssohn was so inspired by these great works that he wrote his own oratorio, “Elijah,” which was first performed at the Birmingham Festival in 1846 to great acclaim. It has remained popular with choirs and audiences ever since.

Tuesday evening at Village Presbyterian Church, Michael Robert Patch will conduct members of the Kansas City Civic Orchestra and singers from 10 professional, community, school, and church choral organizations, including his own ensemble, the Kansas City Women’s Chorus, in a performance of “Elijah.”

Pianist and music critic Charles Rosen called “Elijah” “religious kitsch” because of its prettiness, which Rosen thought Mendelssohn substituted for true religious feeling.

Well, Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” can be considered kitsch, too, but it’s also tremendous entertainment.

“Elijah” is a crowd pleaser for sure, with tuneful choruses and musical special effects that depict the slaying of the false prophets of Baal and Elijah’s ascension into heaven in a fiery chariot. It’s sacred music at its cinematic best.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. Free.

Kansas City Chamber Orchestra

Ludwig van Beethoven and Mendelssohn were composers who had one foot in the Classical era and the other in the Romantic.

Their symphonies combine Classical form and precision with Romantic tone, creating strong images in a listener’s mind.

Two works that epitomize this blend will be offered Saturday night by the Kansas City Chamber Orchestra. Bruce Sorrell will conduct Beethoven’s “Eroica” Symphony and Mendelssohn’s “Italian” symphony in Helzberg Hall.

Napoleon was a hero to many artists of the early Romantic era for spreading the ideals of the French Revolution throughout aristocratic Europe. Beethoven was one of those admirers, and was originally going to call his third symphony the Bonaparte symphony.

But as the story goes, after Napoleon invaded Austria, Beethoven scratched the French conqueror’s name from the dedication, and instead called it “Eroica,” although he retained the subtitle “Composed to celebrate the memory of a great man.”

Mendelssohn retained many of the elements of classicism while using music to describe actual places and stories rather than just convey abstract emotions. Mendelssohn wrote his Symphony No. 4 after returning from Italy. The “Italian” symphony, as he called it, is as sunny as a Tuscan vineyard in July and is a vivid travelogue.

8 p.m. Saturday. Helzberg Hall, Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.www.kcchamberorchestra.org.

Patrick Neas is program director for RadioBach.com. To reach him, send email to pneas@jccc.edu.

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