WESTERLY – When Chorus of Westerly Music Director Andrew Howell finished gathering possiblities for pieces to include in the March concert, he noticed a common thread ran through the compositions.
“They were all about love,” said Jessica Peters, the chorus director of advancement. “Not just romantic love but also unity, happiness and spirituality.”
And a few pieces had another thing in common. They were composed by a celebrated local composer, Peter Niedmann who just happens to be a Westerly native and chorus alum.
Niedmann’s music is widely performed throughout the country, said Peters, and has garnered critical acclaim. In 2013, the Chorus presented the world premiere of his work “Five New England Songs,” commissioned in honor of retired Chorus of Westerly maestro George Kent. Niedmann’s pieces are “If ye Love me,” and “O God, my Heart is Ready.”
On Saturday, March, 17 at 6 p.m. and Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m., music lovers will be able to enjoy the music at two concerts of choral music themed around love.
“It’s really a unique opportunity to showcase the chorus,” said Peters, noting that 190 members will be accompanied by piano only. “It’s a very intimate way to experience their singing.”
The performance will be presented in a relaxed lecture-performance style format, she said, with Howell offering commentary between each work.
Peters said a number of a cappella arrangements are included in the program which will feature such timeless classics as “ If Ye Love Me,” by Thomas Tallis; “Draw the Circle Wide,” by Mark Miller; “Set me as a Seal,” by Rene Clauson; Gwyneth Walker’s arrangement of “How can I keep from singing?”; “God so love the World,” by Bob Chilcott; “The Lord is my Light,” by Frances Allitsen; and Maurice Durufle’s “Ubi Caritas.”
Mark Patterson’s arrangement of the Negro Spiritual, “Ain’a That Good News,” is also on the program, as is “Song 6: Love,” by Will Todd, “Dirait-on,” by Morten Lauridsen, and “Love is,” by Tesfa Wondemagagnehu.
“It’s a wonderful variety,” said Peters. “And wonderful how the idea of unity came through.”
The performance length is approximately 65 minutes with no intermission. Tickets are $23-$65 and student discounts are available. Call the box office for more information at 401-596-8663. Business hours are Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Performance hall doors open 30 minutes prior to the performance. The George Kent Performance Hall is handicapped accessible.