Verdi's Requiem concludes choral society season

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BENNINGTON — The Bennington County Choral Society concludes its 2017-2018 season with a celebration of Musical Director Cailin Marcel Manson's 15 years of choral conducting with Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem. This grand production will be one concert only, a matinee at 2 p.m., Saturday, May 19 at Greenwall Auditorium in the Visual and Performing Arts Center at Bennington College.

Tickets are $15 in advance from chorus members, $20 at the door or on www.BrownPaperTickets.com. Seating is limited. The concert venue is wheelchair accessible.

About the concert program

A Requiem is the musical setting for the Catholic funeral mass. Guiseppe Verdi's "Messa da Requiem" is for four soloists, double choir and orchestra. It was composed in memory of Alessandro Manzoni, an Italian poet and novelist whom Verdi admired. The work was at one time called the Manzoni Requiem. It is rarely performed in liturgy, but rather in concert form of around 85-90 minutes in length.

When the Requiem was composed, female singers were not permitted to perform in Catholic Church rituals. However, from the beginning Verdi intended to use female singers in the work. This marked the first time female singers were intentionally written into a Catholic Requiem and performed it.

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Throughout the work, Verdi uses vigorous rhythms, sublime melodies, and dramatic contrasts — much as he did in his operas — to express the powerful emotions engendered by the text. At the time of its premiere, the Requiem was criticized by some as being too operatic in style for the religious subject matter. Critics were divided between praise and condemnation with respect to Verdi's willingness to break standard compositional rules for musical effect, such as his use of consecutive fifths.

This production, with its pooling of strong cultural resources and forces, is in keeping with the mission of the Choral Society to promote choral music throughout the region, as well as the vision of the Choral Society's director, Cailin Marcel Manson, for the organization to be a nexus for exciting performance experiences for participants, audience, and the larger community.

The Bennington County Choral Society will be joined by students from Bennington College, who have enrolled in a college course, taught and designed by Kerry Ryer-Parke. The chorus will also be joined by Keene Chorale from Keene, N.H, Germantown Concert Chorus from Philadelphia, Pa., and Putney School Madrigals from Putney, as well as Putney Community Orchestra and several of Manson's vocal and orchestral alumni.

About the BCCS

The Bennington County Choral Society is a mixed adult chorus of voices drawn from southern Vermont and nearby New York and Massachusetts communities. Its aims to foster an environment in which chorus members coalesce as a group and develop as an ensemble, with the goal of growing musically through weekly rehearsals and performances that are a source of pride and pleasure.

The Choral Society is open to all ages and singing/reading abilities and performs two concerts each year. Auditions are not required to join. Members are expected to bring a love of singing, and are asked to pay dues of $35 per concert or $60 per season. Information: https://bccssingers.wixsite.com/bccsmusic.


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