Blanche Moyse Chorale's traditional fall offering returns

BRATTLEBORO — A fall tradition returns next month as past members of the New England Bach Festival Orchestra join the Blanche Moyse Chorale to present music of the baroque master J. S. Bach.

This year's concert program is Bach's masterpiece, "Mass in B-minor." The concerts are scheduled Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 8, at 2 p.m. at the Brattleboro Music Center Auditorium, on Blanche Moyse Way, off Guilford Street.

The Blanche Moyse Chorale, a program of the Brattleboro Music Center, is an auditioned chamber chorus with members drawn from the Brattleboro area and beyond. Director Mary Westbrook-Geha brings to the chorale not only her expertise in vocal technique, but also her strong background in the music of Bach, having sung mezzo-soprano and contralto roles for many years at Boston's Emmanuel Church, the Marlboro Music Festival, and the New England Bach Festival.

The Blanche Moyse Memorial Orchestra is formed around a core of veterans of the New England Bach Festival, assembled from busy lives in New York, Boston, Northampton, Mass., Brattleboro, and elsewhere. This year's orchestra features acclaimed flutist Carol Wincenc and acclaimed French horn player Julie Landsman. Past audiences will also recognize veteran principals Mitsuru Tsubota (concertmaster), Mayuki Fukuhara (violin 2), Barbara Wright (viola), Daire FitzGerald (cello), John T. Kulowitsch (bass), Mark Hill (oboe), Greg Hayes (organ), Charles Kiger (timpani) as well as many others. The chorale and orchestra will be complemented by vocal soloists Hyunah Yu (soprano), Katherine Maysek (mezzo-soprano), and Nathaniel Sullivan, (bass).

The October concerts spotlight a work described by its first publisher as "the greatest musical work of art of all ages and peoples." Bach's composition is a musical setting of the Latin text of the Christian ordinary Mass. This text is commonly divided into eight sections, and Bach's setting of the text divides each of the first four sections into several musical movements, resulting in a total of 27 movements in the entire composition, presenting a grand overview of Bach's mastery of many styles, and an intimate view of his skill at crafting complex rhythmic and harmonic textures.

The chorale has approached this major work with a due measure of awe and respect. The Mass is not only a lofty artistic creation worthy of sensitive interpretation in performance, it is also a very demanding regimen of vocal production, rife with technical challenges. The 18 choral movements have been described by some as "an athletic event" and, so, the chorale's 31 highly committed singers have been rehearsing every Sunday evening since late May, under the leadership of director Mary Westbrook-Geha, and practicing for countless hours at home.

Tickets to the October concerts may be obtained from the Brattleboro Music Center at 802-257-4523, online at, from any Chorale member, or at the door. General ticket prices are $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $10 for students (college included). Preferred seating prices are $40, in advance only. The auditorium is handicapped-accessible; for special seating needs, advance notice is appreciated.

These performances are sponsored by Vermont Public Radio (VPR) and by the Vermont Arts Council. For more information, visit or call 802-257-4523.


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