Monday, February 27, 2012

Sacred Music: Church as Concert Hall

Perhaps you are, like me, among those saddened by the slow quiet demise of the Pottstown Symphony.

Emmanuel Lutheran Church
When I arrived in Pottstown in 1997, I was amazed to discover a town this size had a symphony and was lucky enough to have attended a few performances, the free annual Christmas Concert among them.

Emmanuel Lutheran cornerstone
Over the years I have come to realize the the long and deep tradition music has in this town.

And so it is a pleasure to discover that in addition to such musical enterprises as The High Street Music Co. and the TriCounty Performing Arts Center, that another, somewhat more classically oriented organization has taken up residence in town -- more specifically at Emmanuel Lutheran Church on North Hanover St.

It's called "Cantatica" and although it is based in Allentown, it's performances are all right here.
The members of Cantatica

On their web site, they describe themselves thusly: "Cantatica is a new, progressive musical organization devoted to broadening the scope of choral/vocal and instrumental music - its cultural connections, programming, and performance. As an educational resource and performing organization, Cantatica seeks to contribute fresh ideas and new perspectives to the art and excellence of choral/vocal and instrumental music. It also aims to promote greater acceptance and appreciation of the diverse varieties of music, musical organizations and musicians in existence today."

We're halfway through their season already and I won't tell you how disappointed I am, as a someone whose genetic make-up is 50% Welsh, to have missed their "Music of the Celtic Isles" performance, but there are still two performances you can catch.

Next up, on Sunday, March 11 at 4 p.m. is: "Cabaret Songs."

Described as "an afternoon of art songs; choral chansons; Latin American solos, quartets and choruses; Jewish Cabaret; Tin Pan Alley show tunes; piano gems; and jazz-tinged contemporary vocals, tickets for the show are $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens and $8 for students.

Tickets can be purchased at the door, or obtained at or by calling 484-951-5113.
Music to be performed is by Morten Lauridsen, George Shearing, Jake Heggie, Alberto Ginastera, Carlos Guastavino, Alberto Favero, Kurt Weill, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Victor Young, and Moira Smiley and VOCO.
Last up in the season is "Joyful, Jazzy and Jewish," on Sunday, May 27, also at 4 p.m.

As you can tell just by this sample, Cantatica is not your mother's choral group.

According to their web site, Cantatica "is dedicated high quality, engaging and innovative performances of a broad and eclectic range of musical styles including classical, alternative, a cappella, world/folk/roots/Celtic, theater/opera, jazz, contemporary and gospel. The ensemble presents programs at various prominent venues in Pottstown, Allentown and elsewhere. It performs independently and in collaboration with other performing artists and organizations."

"Membership in Cantatica consists of 10-12 singers and several instrumentalists - established and emerging professional musicians in Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. Included are male and female singers and a variety of instrumentalists including piano/keyboards, strings, percussion, guitar, harp, and winds. All members are classically trained, versatile and highly competent performers who perform both as soloists and ensemble members."
Dr. Michael Tamte-Horan

Dr. Michael Tamte-Horan is the Founder of Cantatica and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cantatica Chamber Ensemble. With more than 30 years experience, he has conducted university and community based choral and orchestral organizations from Washington to the Mid-West to the Atlantic Coast/Northeastern United States. He is a former member and soloist with the renowned Dale Warland Singers, and has studied and/or sung with many leading choral conductors including Robert Shaw, Eric Ericson, Philip Brunelle, Joseph Flummerfelt, Maurice Casey, Louis Halsey, Donald Neuen, Alfred Mann, Weston Noble, Lara Hoggard, Howard Skinner, and Jon Washburn.

As Artistic Director and Conductor of Cantatica, Dr. Tamte-Horan leads the Choral/Vocal and Instrumental Ensemble in various concerts and performances, presents clinics and workshops.

* * *
Megan Durham

Emmanuel Lutheran hosts other artists in addition to Cantatica.

On Sunday, March 25, mezzo-soprano Megan Durham will perform "Mystery of the Song" at 4 p.m. Admission to this performance is free.

Durham serves on the voice faculties of DeSales University and Lehigh University.

According to the church web site, she is "a versatile performer with a particular interest in oratorio and chamber repertoire. She was a 2010 finalist in the Bach Vocal Competition sponsored by the American Bach Society & Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Her agile instrument and vibrant stage presence lends itself to a wide body of repertoire ranging from Vivaldi to Weil."

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