The Shedd Choral Society is a repertoire reading ensemble, focusing on great Western choral music in a traditional setting. Led by Shedd faculty member Amy Adams and accompanied by Bruce Haines, the ensemble explores works by Bach, Vivaldi, Brahms, Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Handel, and many others. Non-auditioned and open to adult choral musicians at any level, rehearsals focus on learning choral parts and conclude with an informal performance that is free and open to the public.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
- Missa Brevis KV258 “Piccolomini”
This missa brevis (“brief mass”) was clearly intended for an important occasion, with its choruses and parts written for high trumpets – but it’s not known what the occasion might have been! Sometimes called the “Spaur Mass” (hypothesizing that it was written to honor Count Ignaz Joseph von Spaur), the title ‘Piccolomini’ doesn’t clarify things much more, since it likely refers to the short duration of the work.
One thing that is certain is that this Mass is one of three composed in November and December of 1776. Mozart was living with his family in Salzburg, intermittently making lengthy trips to Munich and Vienna looking for a good job as a composer – and he was writing prolifically. The Piccolomini Mass is written in the bright and pure key of C Major, as were his other Missa Brevis works. In keeping with the economical requirements for a missa brevis, Mozart moves through the material swiftly, faithful to the text but ‘through-composing’ the movements, avoiding repetition. The result is a skillfully crafted mass setting, hinting at some of his brilliant inventiveness that appears in his operas.
- Tantum Ergo
- Madrigal Op.35
Gabriel Fauré (born May 12, 1845, Pamiers, Ariège, France—died Nov. 4, 1924, Paris), was a composer whose gentle music strongly influenced modern Western composers. Fauré excelled not only as a songwriter of great refinement and sensitivity but also as a composer in every branch of chamber music. He wrote more than 100 songs and enriched the literature of the piano with a number of exquisite and original works.
In Faure’s delicate and spiritual setting of the “Tantum Ergo” text, he displays craftsmanship and a light touch, as well as the elegant and striking “Madrigal.” Written in 1883, and dedicated to his former roommate, about to get married, it’s the only work in which he borrowed a theme from another composer – none other than J.S. Bach. The opening line is derived from Bach’s cantata “Aus Tiefer Not” (From Deepest Need) and the piece (a dialogue between men and women about love’s inconstancy) conveys the tone of a speech by the best man at a wedding.
Six Choral Folksongs Op. 36B (1916)
- I Sowed the Seeds of Love
- There Was a Tree
- Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John
- Song of the Blacksmith
- I Love My Love
- Swansea Town
Gustav Holst (1874-1934), together with his friend Ralph Vaughan Williams and many other English composers, embraced their country’s rich folk song heritage by arranging the tunes for choirs, bands and orchestras. Holst, particularly famous for his huge orchestral suite The Planets, used a number of British folk songs in his compositions and also arranged them for choir. In his hands, these six folk songs, collected by Scottish folklorist George Barnet Gardiner, are transformed into imaginative and elegant works of choral literature.