For 43 years, the Williamsburg Choral Guild (WCG) has been hitting high notes at choral concerts packed with approving and appreciative audiences throughout the Williamsburg area.
Now, after the recent retirement of distinguished and beloved artistic director Jay BeVille, WCG has passed the baton to maestro Brian Isaac, who will continue the 90-member group’s evolution. Here are other exciting changes to the successful group’s sight and sound.
- Concerts will include never-been-sung works along with old favorites.
- Venues will be intimate with great acoustics and ample parking.
- Season subscriptions that include tickets to the November, March and May concerts will be sold online. The December concert is free and no ticket is required.
“People will say, “Wow! They’re taking a different approach,’ ” says Chuck McConnell, a baritone/bass and WCG board member.
Hello Brian Isaac
Isaac, who begins rehearsals with the group in September, comes with impressive credentials. He currently serves as artistic director of the Alexandria Choral Society in Alexandria, Va., and artistic director and founder of the Church Circle Singers in Annapolis, Md. He previously served as assistant conductor of the Washington Master Chorale in Washington, D.C. and as director of choirs at Damascus High School in Montgomery County, Md.
Between practices and meetings, Isaac answered a few questions about the new WCG season and about himself.
Q. You’ve been tasked with taking the WCG to the next level. What does that mean to you?
A. It’s critical, of course, that we continue to celebrate and perform classic repertoire within the choral canon. I do believe, however, that the WCG and other organizations like it have a special responsibility to expand the canon by promoting new works by lesser-known composers, and where possible, commissioning composers to create original content.
Q. Why did you take the job as WCG artistic director?
A. The decision to accept the artistic director position was an easy one. WCG has a rich history of quality choral performance, a membership that cares deeply about their craft, and a Williamsburg community that enthusiastically supports the performing arts.
Q. How’s it going so far?
A. The WCG staff and membership have been wonderfully welcoming. I really look forward to beginning rehearsals with this outstanding organization in September.
Q. Got any new season favorites?
A. As a former high school choir director, I am incredibly passionate about youth music education. As such, we have three exciting youth-oriented collaborations planned this season. The Williamsburg Youth Chorale will join us during our December performance Wintertide. Two local high school chamber choirs will prepare and perform both the Parry Blest Pair of Sirens and the Fauré Requiem in our March program Voice and Verse. And the Virginia Wesleyan University Choirs join us for our May performance.
We know you’re wondering
Here’s a quick look at the four concerts.
The 2018 inaugural concert celebrates and examines sunset as both an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon and as a metaphor for physical, emotional and spiritual transition. It features:
- Jonathan Dove’s Seek Him that Maketh the Seven Stars for mixed chorus and organ.
- Connor Koppin’s Echo, a new piece for chorus and piano.
- Stephen Chatman’s Dawn of Night, a work for mixed chorus and cello featuring poetry by Tara Wohlberg.
The holidays are always a special time to gather loved ones and celebrate the beauty and majesty of winter. WCG’s Wintertide concert, a highlight of the choral season, will celebrate this special time of year with:
- June Nixon’s brilliant The Holly and the Ivy
- Julian Wachner’s reimagining of the holiday carols O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; Hark! The Herald Angels Sing; and Angels We have Heard on High — each for mixed chorus and organ
- A cappella favorites Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming, Jolly Old Saint Nicholas, and O Tannenbaum
- Contemporary works like Eatnemen Vuelie (Song of the Earth), a traditional Sami yoik written by Frode Fjellheim and arranged for mixed chorus and percussion by Emily Crocker; and Ring Out, Ye Bells!, written for mixed chorus and piano by Dale Trumbore.
- Songs by Williamsburg Youth Chorale, under the direction of Ann Porter and Genrose Lashinger.
This exciting concert features a collaboration between WCG and two local high school chamber choirs, a bow to Isaac’s special interest in guiding young musicians. “As a former high school choir director, you’ll quickly realize that youth music education is an absolute passion of mine,” Isaac says.
The concert will include:
- C.H.H. Parry’s Blest Pair of Sirens, a setting in eight voices of John Milton’s Ode At a solemn Musick
- Gabriel Fauré’s exquisite Requiem.
The last concert of the 2018-19 season features:
- Dan Forrest’s major five-movement work for orchestra and chorus entitled Lux: The Dawn from on High, and a choral collaboration with Virginia Wesleyan University’s Chamber Choir under the direction of Dr. Bryson Mortensen
- Shawn Kirchner’s a cappella arrangement of the Appalachian folk tune Bright Morning Stars
- Jeffery Ames’ In Remembrance for mixed chorus, piano, and horn.
To order tickets, contact a WCG member or buy them online.
Says McConnell, “It’s not too early to get the word out and let people know this is a revitalized group of outstanding choral performers with a season of exciting performances ahead”
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