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Ghent, New York
Local culture | Local living | Soft news
7 November 2017 04:48PM
David Smith

At 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 12th at Kinderhook Reformed Church, Concerts in the Village will present Handel’s monumental oratorio Israel in Egypt, with the Broad Street Chorale, the Cantilena Chamber Choir (Lenox), Andrea Goodman, Director, the Broad Street Orchestra, and soloists. This will be the second program of CITV’s eighth season. CITV Artistic Director David Smith will conduct.

For this concert CITV warmly welcomes the award-winning Cantilena Chamber Choir, in what is a first-ever collaboration for the Broad Street Chorale, CITV’s resident choral ensemble. Four outstanding soloists will be featured, each a returning CITV artist: sopranos Rose Hunsberger and Katie Roppolo, countertenor Daniel Moody, and tenor Christopher Sokolowski. The choral and instrumental forces required to perform Israel in Egypt are not exceeded by any other work of Handel and contribute mightily to its powerful effect.

In no other oratorio or opera is Handel more colorfully descriptive than in Israel in Egypt, where he portrays the dramatic exodus of the Israelites from Egypt (Part I), and upon their deliverance extended thanksgiving and celebration (Part II). The composer’s text-setting is absolutely brilliant. In Part I the rivers run with blood, the King’s chambers are overwhelmed by frogs, there is pestilence for man and beast, flies and lice are everywhere, locusts devour crops, hailstones shower down, there is fire, and finally there is darkness . . . The first-born are beaten. There is no end to the horror so vividly conveyed by Handel. But at last the Red Sea is dried up and the Israelites escape, while the waters behind them overwhelm their enemies. All of this is high drama indeed, with action and emotion worthy of Hollywood at its cinematic best!

According to David Smith, CITV’s Artistic Director and Conductor, “In Israel in Egypt Handel leaves no dramatic opportunity unpursued. Largely forgotten in the late 18th and early 19th c., this remarkable oratorio was reintroduced by Mendelssohn in 1833. The enthusiasm on that occasion lasted throughout the rest of the 19th c. In fact for many years the popularity of this work was easily the equal of Messiah, and with good reason. However, current performances are not common due to the complexity of the choral writing and the extensive forces required to deliver the high drama of Handel’s work.

“For Concerts in the Village, the time to offer Israel in Egypt seems just right – thanks in no small measure to the opportunity we have to collaborate with the award-winning Cantilena Chamber Choir of Lenox. I am especially grateful to Andrea Goodman, Cantilena’s Director and founder, for being so receptive to this collaboration and for contributing so essentially to our preparation. All of the many necessary ingredients are falling into place. I am confident that our listeners will be thrilled with the results on November 12th.

Four fine soloists will join the combined choral and orchestral forces. Soprano Rose Hunsberger is a frequent soloist in the area and member of Cantilena Chamber Choir. Soprano Katie Roppolo is a member of the Broad Street Chorale, with which she has appeared on several occasions, memorably as the Sorceress in CITV’s performances of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas in Kinderhook and at PS21 in Chatham.

Countertenor Daniel Moody (http://www.danielmoodycountertenor.com/) will be making his second CITV appearance. Moody has appeared throughout the United States, and has been a Tanglewood Fellow. Among many laudatory reviews, the New York Times has noted that his “vocal resonance makes a profoundly startling impression…” Tenor Christopher Sokolowski (http://www.christophersokolowski.com/), a Tanglewood Fellow in 2016, will be making his third CITV appearance. Sokolowski, a native of the Hudson Valley, has performed throughout the United States in both opera and concert repertoire. In October of this year his impressive talents took him to Japan. The New York Times calls attention to Sokolowski’s “solid, attractive tone.”

As for Concerts in the Village and its previous Handel offerings, reviewing a 2014 program the late John Paul Keeler (Register Star, Hudson) concluded that the performance was “stunning . . . one of the finest musical events of its kind in many seasons . . . Maestro Smith has brought his musical forces to heights of musical grandeur . . . In a short time Concerts in the Village has taken on a major musical role in the Upper Hudson Valley.”

Kinderhook Reformed Church, 21 Broad Street (US Route 9), Kinderhook, NY 12106.
Contribution: $ 20. Reception follows. Handicapped accessible.

For further information and assured seating (recommended) visit http://www.concertsinthevillage.org or call 518-758-6869.

CITV concerts are made possible with public funds from the Decentralization Program of the New York State Council on the Arts, administered in Columbia, Greene and Schoharie Counties by the Greene County Council on the Arts through the Community Arts Grants Fund. Generous funding has also been received from the Hudson River Bank and Trust Company Foundation, T. Backer Fund, and Stewart’s Shops, as well as from many individual and business supporters. Kinderhook Reformed Church is especially acknowledged for its many in-kind donations.

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