BLUE HILL — Summer residents will get a rare treat to hear the Bagaduce Chorale perform “Nocturnes: Reflections for a Summer Evening” at 7:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, July 12-13, at the First Congregational Church of Blue Hill. Customarily, the chorus only performs in December and May.
The program will feature works by contemporary choral composers including Morten Lauridsen, Ola Gjeilo, Sir Karl Jenkins and Christopher Tin. Director Bronwyn Kortge carefully curated the compositions to create a lush exploration of the expansive, even eternal feelings, which can fill hearts, during long summer evenings and late-lingering twilights.
The program will opens with Eric Barnum’s “Afternoon on a Hill,” a quietly beautiful melody set to a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay. This will be followed by “The Road Home,”
a tune from “Southern Harmony 1835,” adapted by Stephen Paulus.
These two gentle works set the stage for a trio of Nocturnes by the esteemed American composer Morten Lauridsen, who celebrates his 75th birthday this year. The three Nocturnes will be presented as a seamless song cycle. The first, “Sa Nuit d’Été” is set to a lyric by Rainer Maria Rilke.
This is followed by “Soneto da la Noche,” an incredibly moving setting of the emotionally charged poem by Pablo Neruda “When I Die I Want Your Hands on My Eyes.” This work segues magically into the powerful culmination of these Nocturnes, “Sure on This Shining Night.” Lauridsen’s beautiful melody captures the rising and falling emotional tide of this short, but powerful poem by James Agee.
The concert’s second half will feature “Dark Night of the Soul” in which Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo uses as text an English translation of the poem “La noche oscura del alma” written by the Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross.
“This work explores the spiritual desolation that heralds change, transformation, and ultimately, the embodiment of the divine” says Kortge. “Gjeilo braids the chorus, piano and strings together in such a way that each instrument — chorus, piano, and string quartet — serve as both soloist and accompanist.
This program has several works that showcase the piano accompaniment and this concert will mark the “debut” of the Chorale’s new accompanist this season, Colin Graebert. Colin will have ample opportunity to display his power, sensitivity and skill in works that range from the gentle “The Pasture,” a sweet setting of the Frost poem by Z. Randall Stroope to Moses Hogan’s rousing gospel anthem “Music Down in My Soul.”
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday-Saturday July 12-13. Advance tickets are available at the Blue Hill Public Library, Flexit Café in Ellsworth, Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor and the Southwest Harbor Public Library. Tickets cost $20 per person while admission is free for students, but tickets are required. For more info, visit bagaducechorale.org.