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RE:voicing 2: "Worlds Apart" Preview

 —  Press

At the end of this month, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players (SFCMP) will conclude its 2023–24 season with another program featuring vocal works, given the title RE:voicing 2: Worlds Apart. The instrumentalists will be joined by the Volti chamber choir, led by its founder Robert Geary, along with two vocal soloists, soprano Winnie Nieh and baritone Daniel Cilli. The featured work on the program will fill the second half of the evening, the cantata Worlds Apart, composed by Richard Festinger.

This piece was commissioned from the Fromm Music Foundation at Harvard University in 2018. The plan was for the work to be given its first performance by Cantata Singers and Ensemble, based in Boston. The new work would provide the same instrumental accompaniment that Johann Sebastian Bach required for his BWV 78 cantata, Jesu, der du meine Seele. However, while BWV 78 required four vocal soloists (soprano, alto, tenor, and bass), the new work would require (as can be seen above) only a soprano and a baritone. The text for the cantata drew upon an eclectic collection of sources from Bertolt Brecht, Stephen Crane, and Wendell Berry. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the originally scheduled world premiere had to be cancelled, meaning that this month’s concert will mark the composition’s first performance.

In the first half of the program, Volti will perform “De Profundis” (out of the depths), a setting of Psalm 130 by the rising young Bay Area composer Jens Ibsen. There will also be a performance of “Effortlessly, Love Flows,” one of the movements from Aaron Jay Kernis’ Ecstatic Meditations. The text is taken from the writings of the medieval mystic Mechthild of Magdeburg.

The first half will then conclude with the only instrumental work on the program. “Asko Concerto” was one of the last pieces to be composed by Elliott Carter. It was written on a commission for the Asko Ensemble, which is based in Amsterdam. Carter wrote the score for sixteen players, drawing upon the concept of a Baroque concerto grosso. The work is in six sections, which involve different combinations of instruments.

This program will take place on Thursday, May 30, beginning at 7:30 p.m. The venue will be the Brava Theater, which is located in the Mission at 2781 24th Street. As usual, the program will be preceded at 6:30 p.m. by a How Music is Made discussion with Artistic Director Eric Dudley in conversation with Festinger. General admission will be $35 with a $40 VIP rate, and $15 for students. Tickets may be purchased online through a City Box Office event page.