Woods Hole Cantata Consort: An English Pastorale

Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 7:30pm
Church of the Messiah, 22 Church Street, Woods Hole, MA


Led by Music Director Margaret Bossi, the Woods Hole Cantata Consort celebrates its 46th season by presenting an engaging concert of works with a pastoral theme—all by English composers—performed by chorus, vocal soloists, harpist and chamber orchestra.   Performances are scheduled for Saturday, August 17, 7:30PM and Sunday, August 18, 4:00PM at Church of the Messiah, 22 Church Street in Woods Hole.  Donations will be gratefully accepted at the door.


 The program includes compositions from the 17th through the 20st centuries, all secular in nature and all sung in English.  Featured soloists include harpist Maria Rindenello-Spraker, soprano Joan Kirchner and baritone Philip Lima.  The 50-member chorus of mixed voices and vocal soloists will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra of strings, woodwinds, and harp.  Lucy Banner will provide accompaniment on organ and piano.


Director Bossi has chosen The Sprig of Thyme, a charming cycle of diverse folk-song settings by John Rutter for the second half of the program. The eleven songs, from England, Scotland and Ireland, create a colorful musical patchwork reflecting ordinary people’s lives, and particularly their loves.  Rutter has taken these songs, passed down through generations, and given new life to them hoping to pass on to both singers and listeners the delight and pleasure they have given him throughout his life and which he believes provided a solid bedrock for a shared musical culture.


For the first part of the concert, Ms. Bossi has programmed works that reflect, in different genres, the same pastoral feel of the Rutter.  The chorale will sing excerpts from three works by Handel and Purcell.  The opening chorus, “Soul of the World,” is from Henry Purcell’s Ode to St. Cecilia (1692), the patron saint of music, in which he praises music as the force that brings harmony to the chaotic universe.


The chorus will also sing the “Scene of the Drunken Poet” from Purcell’s comic “semi-opera” or masque The Fairy-Queen (1692), with Philip Lima as the drunken poet. An excerpt from George Frideric Handel’s massive oratorio L’Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato (The Cheerful, the Thoughtful, and the Moderate Man) (1740), a pastoral ode based primarily on poetry by John Milton, concludes the first half. This excerpt from the L’Allegro theme, “Haste Thee, Nymph,” portrays the joyful, cheerful side of Milton’s human dichotomy.


Joan Kirchner and Philip Lima have featured roles within the choral selections but will also perform compositions for vocal soloists.  Ms. Kirchner will sing one of Purcell’s most popular and best- remembered pieces, “Music for a While,” part of his incidental music for Oedipus by John Dryden, first performed in 1692.  Mr. Lima performs selections from Songs of Travel by Ralph Vaughan Williams.  This song cycle was composed between 1901 and 1904, using poems by Robert Lewis Stevenson as text, and portrays a world-weary but resolute wayfarer. 


Needing a harp for the Rutter song cycle, Ms. Bossi took advantage of the fact by including in the program Handel’s Concerto in B-flat. This work was originally composed in 1736 for harp and chamber instrumentalists for performance in Part I of his choral work Alexander’s Feast, a setting of Dryden’s ode celebrating the power of music.   


Featured harpist Maria Rindenello-Spraker is an active chamber musician, orchestral harpist, and soloist who has been performing professionally since she was 11 years old.  As an active freelancer, Maria has performed with notable ensembles throughout New England. She served as Principal Harp for five seasons with the critically acclaimed Boston-based chamber orchestra Discovery Ensemble.  In summers, Maria has participated in the Cape Cod Chamber Music Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, the Aspen Music Festival, and Monadnock Music.


Maria received Master and Bachelor of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory in Boston and was a prize winner in the advanced division of the American Harp Society's National Competition. Maria serves on the faculty at the Cape Conservatory, Indian Hill Music School, Groton School, and will be joining the Community School at Legacy Farm to design a music program for their students. She also maintains and repairs harps as a guild-certified harp technician. Since moving to the Cape, Maria has performed with many local ensembles, and as a soloist at public venues and private events.


For more information, see www.woodsholecantata.org.