Kyle P. Ramey had a vision when he created an auditioned a cappella chamber choir three years ago. With his upcoming concert, American Choral Favorites, he fulfills that vision.
While the past two annual concerts by Watertown Musica Viva were mostly a cappella, some selections had instrumental accompaniment.
This year, its an entire a cappella concert, said Mr. Ramey, who in addition to directing Musica Viva is the organist and choirmaster at Trinity. Its one of those concerts where the singer cant hide. They are exposed the whole time.
The concert, at 7 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Church, is part of the 2012-13 Trinity Concert Series. The 18-member Musica Viva will present music by four American composers born between 1899 and 1905.
Its when what we call the sort of classic American choral sound came into existence, Mr. Ramey said. Its American as apple pie.
The timing of the concert reflects the theme as well. I put it right before Thanksgiving because its such an American holiday, Mr. Ramey said.
The Peaceable Kingdom by Randall Thompson (1899-1984) is an eight-movement work of approximately 20 minutes inspired, in part, by the paintings by Edward Hicks (1780-1849). The Pennsylvania native created more than 60 versions of his Peaceable Kingdom paintings, which reflect the Quaker theme of peace and brotherly love. Each of the eight sections is set to texts from the book of the prophet Isaiah.
A lot of people will know who Randall Thompson was, Mr. Ramey said. They sang his music in high school choirs and college choirs.
Aaron Copland (1900-90) is the most well-known composer to be featured in the concert. Musica Viva will sing his Four Motets, which Copland wrote in 1921 while studying in France with Nadia Boulanger. The work is based on the Book of Psalms.
Mr. Ramey said the Four Motets, despite being among Coplands first works, were not published until 1979.
You feel hints of other music that Copland would write later in his life that Americana music, Mr. Ramey said.
But he noted the Four Motets arent as polished as those later works.
You can tell they were written by a student, Mr. Ramey said. Hes constantly changing keys. The singers have to be confident in their parts.
Works by Jean Berger (1909-2002), a native of Germany who became an American citizen, that will be featured include The Eyes of All Wait Upon Thee and A Rose Touched by the Suns Warm Rays.
They are in German, but were singing the English translation, Mr. Ramey said. Berger translated them himself.
Four pieces by Harold Friedell (1905-1958) will be performed: Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life, King of Glory, King of Peace, Jesus, So Lowly and Song of Mary.
Friedell was organist and choirmaster at St. Bartholomews Church in New York City, Mr. Ramey said. He took great poems by different writers and set them to beautiful original melodies.
The members of Musica Viva are Nancy Boynton, Alice Jean Boucher, Linda Raville, Sara Glover, Richard Stephens, Jonathan Cole, David Raville, Martha Jablonski, Michaela Schied, Emily Kelly, Richard Probert, Ken Piarulli, John Willaman, Sue Ebersol DeMar, Maureen Laemmermann, Kevin Thackston, Mary Kaskan and Chris Boulter.