Master Brahms - May 30, 2014
by Nancy Bramlett
This past Friday evening, I had the pleasure of attending the Capella Antiqua “Master Brahms” concert at the incredibly beautiful Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento. The choir is based in that fabulous building and is fairly young as choirs go, just four years. They have a wonderful accompanist in Rexphil Rallanka, who is also the music director for the Cathedral.
The choir is made up of an impressive group of music majors, unlike any other choir I have known.
Seven out of the 18 members have Bachelors, Masters and/or Doctorates in Music. Forty percent of members with a music degree is the highest I've seen since being a music major myself in college! Check them out at capella-antiqua.org. The director of Capella Antiqua is Dr. Robert M. Johnson, who graduated from the University of the Pacific, Conservatory of Music with a B.Mu. in music education, and holds M.Mu. and D.M.A. degrees in choral music from Arizona State University. It is easy to see the love the director has for the music Capella Antiqua performs, and it is encouraging to see the humility and candor of this leader.Capella Antiqua performed a choral program that both educated and exposed the audience to the wonderful choral music of Brahms. It consisted of the, Liebeslieder Walzer Op. 52, Drei Quartette Op. 31, Lieder und Gesange Op. 32, and selected Quartets.
See the attached program for all of the pieces and the all-important translations.
The Liebeslieder Walzer comprised the entire first part of the program. It is a collection of love songs in a folk dance in 3/4 time (Ländler style) for choir and piano. The lyrics for the Liebeslieder come from Georg Friedrich Daumer's Polydora, a collection of folk songs and love poems. My two favorites from these 18 pieces were Number 11 and 12. Playfully passionate, the first song declares, “There's just no getting along with people; they always make such poisonous interpretations of everything.” And the next song begs, “Locksmith, get up and make your locks, for I want to lock up all the evil mouths.” The women and men engaged, took turns, and engaged once more, speaking of love in many circumstances and metaphors, from sweet to salty, with waves and moons and nightingales and dangerous wells. Though I had heard of this work, I had never heard it performed live. I was grateful for the opportunity to experience Brahms' work through such enthusiastic performers.
The second half of the night included the Drei Quartette Op. 31. Wechsellied Zum Tanze (Dialogue at the Dance) – a delightful back and forth between the “Indifferent Ones” and the “Tender Ones.” The “Neckereien “ (Teasing) was also playful and fun.
The next set featured David Paterson, bass baritone and Faythe Volrath, piano. David did a great job in both tone and expression of the despair in “Never more to visit you.” “Wie bist du, meine Konigen?” an ardent plea to “Let me die in your arms” was warm and tender.
Of the last three quartets, “Der Abend” was the most recognized, but “O schone Nacht!” was the most beautiful.
I look forward to watching this choir grow. I would love to hear more of the voice majors take turns at solos and duets! On a fun note, the choir is auditioning for a strong alto. If you are interested, check out their web site. They practice on Tuesday evenings. Happy singing!
Nancy Bramlett is a Dramatic Coloratura Soprano from Kansas City, MO. She graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL with a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance. She has most recently studied with Marla Volovna in San Francisco and Zoila Munoz in Davis. Nancy has had the honor of traveling all over the US and to Europe with the Bradley University Chorale. She has sung in several choirs since then, as well as performing in opera and musical theater productions and singing solos for local churches, as well as weddings and memorial services. Nancy has directed choirs; taught voice, piano and Kindermusik; and has been a music director for musical theater. She is currently busy with Classical Music for Christ and as a regular soloist for Cottage Way Christian Church in Sacramento and the Placer County Youth Orchestra. Nancy resides in Rocklin with her husband Scott and three sons: Patrick, Riley and John.