Les Délices (Debra Nagy, director) and Northeast Ohio’s premiere chamber choir Quire Cleveland (Ross Duffin, director) will join forces April 27-29 for three performances of Let the Heavens Rejoice, an exciting new program of French Baroque music for chorus and orchestra. Featuring resplendent, rarely-heard grand motets by Rameau and Mondonville, the modern premiere of a stunning solo for tenor and orchestra, and a fabulous 11-voice work for voices by Charpentier – this is a not-to-be-missed program!
Les Délices and Quire offer performances Friday April 27, 2018 at 7:30pm at St. Noel Church (35200 Chardon Rd, Willoughby Hills), Saturday April 28, 2018 at 8pm at Lakewood Congregational Church (1375 W Clifton Blvd, Lakewood), and Sunday April 29, 2018 at 4pm (pre-concert lecture by Debra Nagy at 3pm) in the Sanctuary at Plymouth Church UCC (2860 Coventry Rd., Shaker Heights).
Several special guests with strong Cleveland connections make contributions to this program: Les Délices regular (and director of Boston’s acclaimed vocal ensemble Blue Heron) Scott Metcalfe will serve as guest conductor, the “lovely high tenor” Owen McIntosh returns to sing the modern premiere of Lefebvre’s Conserva me, and baritone Jeffrey Strauss (a frequent guest with Apollo’s Fire) will contribute solos in the Mondonville and Rameau.
Considering Quire Cleveland’s focus on introducing audiences to choral music not heard in the modern era and Les Délices’ penchant for rarely-heard instrumental music, an artistic collaboration between the two groups was an obvious choice. Les Délices’ artistic director Debra Nagy explained, “It’s a thrill to be able to share music with audiences that’s more ambitious than what either ensemble to could do on its own. For this project, Les Délices will expand to a small orchestra of 13 supporting Quire’s ensemble of just over 20 singers. I’ve long admired Ross Duffin and Beverly Simmons’ work with Quire and am so glad to be able to do this!”
Ross Duffin adds, “Debra Nagy has made a huge success of Les Délices, entertaining Northeast Ohio audiences with outstanding and, in many cases, completely unheard repertoire from the French Baroque. Quire eagerly anticipates our collaboration with Les Délices for this fantastic program. We plan to make the heavens rejoice!”
Let the Heavens Rejoice is inspired by original concert programs from the premiere concert series in 18th-century Paris know as Le Concert Spirituel. Le Concert Spirituel provided entertainment when the opera was closed – especially around religious holidays or during Lent. Though the opera was shuttered, entertainment (rather than piety) remained the central draw. As a result, programs generally included grand works for chorus and orchestra with Latin texts (with solos performed by stars from the opera), dazzling showpieces for soloists, and impressive instrumental simphonies.
The grand works for chorus and orchestra were known as Grand Motets. Though a mainstay of the concert repertory in France throughout the 18th Century, Grand Motets are only rarely heard today. For Let the Heavens Rejoice, Les Délices and Quire Cleveland will perform Jean-Philippe Rameau’s grand motet “In Convertendo,” and Joseph Cassanea de Mondonville’s “Venite Exultemus.” Complete with impressive choruses, brilliant orchestral effects, and virtuosic vocal solos, these works were performed dozens of times in their heyday.