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Viva Vivaldi! Choral Society of the Hamptons Celebrates Spring

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Choral Society of the Hamptons. Photo courtesy of David Brandenburg.

Choral Society of the Hamptons. Photo courtesy of David Brandenburg.

By Tessa Raebeck

Along with an organ, trumpets, strings and at least one oboe, over 70 musicians will fill the East Hampton Presbyterian Church Sunday for the Choral Society of the Hamptons’ spring concert, a festive and joyous celebration of the season.

“Viva Vivaldi!” will feature guest conductor Walter Klauss. Several guest soloists and the South Fork Chamber Ensemble will join the choral society in an energetic concert to welcome spring.

“A lot of the themes in the text of the different pieces reflect renewal and simple expressions of joy, which reflect the season very aptly,” said David Brandenburg, the society’s executive director.

Guest conductor Walter Klauss.

Guest conductor Walter Klauss.

The chorus will perform J.S. Bach’s cantata, “Gott ist mein König,” with themes of aging and renewal sung in German, Bach’s native tongue.

“Bach, for one,” said Mr. Brandenburg, “was extraordinarily prolific in his writing for chorus and orchestra…. He at one point was writing one of these pieces almost every week. It’s really quite amazing.”

The cantata will feature the chorus soloists, as well as a small chamber orchestra with five string instruments, several wind instruments and an organ.

The cornerstone piece of the program is “Gloria, Cantata 71” by Antonia Vivaldi, another baroque master and an 18th century contemporary of Bach’s. The popular, often performed piece is sung in Latin with the unusual instrumentation of strings, a single oboe and a trumpet. It includes two female soloists and the chorus and has “sprightly tempos and rich harmonies,” according to Daniel McKeever, the society’s president who is also in the chorus.

“That’s perhaps the favorite piece of the program for fans of choral music,” Mr. Brandenburg said of the exultant and popular song.

The third feature is “Five Mystical Songs,” a collection written between 1906 and 1911 by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a leading British composer of the early 20th century, who urges, “Let the world in every corner sing.”

“It’s very accessible and very melodic, but it will be a nice, more contemporary contrast between the two older works,” Mr. Brandenburg said.

The work sets four poems by George Herbert, a 17th century English poet and Anglican priest, to music. “Easter” is divided into four parts, resulting in five songs of metaphysical verse: “Easter,” “I Got Me Flowers,” Love Bade Me Welcome,” “The Call” and “Antiphon.” Although Vaughan Williams was an atheist at the time of his writing, he enjoyed using the imagery and mysticism of faith.

Some of the songs have a “very folk-like element to them,” Mr. Brandenburg said, adding that Vaughan Williams often used English folk melodies as inspiration and wrote for various types of instrumentation, including orchestra and band, as well as for chorus.

The concert will combine the chorus, made up of members of the local community who rehearse for 10 weeks in preparation for each concert, with professional conductors, soloists and instrumentalists.

Part-time East Hampton resident Walter Klauss, who is “terrific,” according to Mr. Brandenburg, will act as guest conductor. The founder of the Musica Viva concert series, Mr. Klauss has been the minister of music at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City since 1976. He made his debut as an organist at the Cleveland Museum of Art at age 17 and recently performed at the Old Whalers’ Church in Sag Harbor, to which he will return for the 10 a.m. worship service Sunday.

“And then we’ll be joined by four very talented soloists who have all worked with Walter before and some of them have worked with us before,” Mr. Brandenburg said. “There will be eight instrumentalists, strings, oboe, trumpet and organ, so there will be quite a number.”

“It’s quite an impressive collection,” he continued, adding that some 70 to 80 musicians will be featured in the concert.

A benefit dinner featuring selections from Chef Mathias Brogie’s new spring menu at c/o The Maidstone, 207 Main Street in East Hampton, will follow the concert.

The Choral Society of the Hamptons will present “Viva Vivaldi!” on Sunday, March 30, at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton, 120 Main Street in East Hampton. Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Youth tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Preferred-seating tickets are $75. Tickets to the concert and benefit dinner are $300. For tickets and more information, call 204-9402, or visit choralsocietyofthehamptons.org or the Romany Kramoris Gallery, 41 Main Street in Sag Harbor. 

Brandenburg Executive Director of Choral Society of the Hamptons

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Brandenburg Photo

The Choral Society of the Hamptons has named David M. Brandenburg its executive director. He is a composer, co-founder of the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, and music director of the Sag Harbor Community Band.

Mr. Brandenburg will help produce the Society’s June 29 performance of Handel’s dramatic oratorio “Israel in Egypt” Part II (Exodus) and Bach’s cantata 79, “Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild.”

The concert, a collaboration with the Greenwich Village Singers and the South Fork Chamber Orchestra, will take place in the Parish Hall of Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton. It will be followed by a benefit dinner at The Palm restaurant with Mark Mangini, the Society’s music director and conductor, and soloists from the performance.

Interested singers can still arrange auditions by calling Brandenburg at 204-9402. More information is available at the society’s website, www.choralsocietyofthehamptons.org.

“David Brandenburg is an accomplished administrator who knows a wide variety of music and a respected member of the East End cultural community. His skills will contribute strongly to the progressively higher standards of performance we have achieved under Mr. Mangini,” said Daniel McKeever, the Choral Society’s president.

Brandenburg’s administrative experience began shortly after he graduated from Yale with a major in music and earned a master’s degree in music and music education from Columbia. He became program manager and director of information systems for Meet the Composer, a national organization based in New York City, and for 11 years was music director of the Yale Jazz Ensemble. In 1996, with the actor Josh Gladstone, he co-founded the Hamptons Shakespeare Festival, of which he remains the artistic director.

In addition to bringing productions to the South Fork, Brandenburg has contributed to the community as M.C. of the Teeny Awards, a high school theater recognition program of the East End Arts Council. For three years, he was a panelist for the “capacity building initiative” of the East End Arts Council and the New York State Council on the Arts.