The remarkable stylistic range and exceptional musical artistry of the Grammy-nominated Pacific Chorale, led by Artistic Director Robert Istad, will be on full display in its season finale on Saturday, May 7, 2022, 5:00 pm, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Istad conducts the choir’s first-ever performance of Ralph Vaughan Williams’ masterwork Dona Nobis Pacem, a sublime setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry, with renowned guest artists soprano Deanna Breiwick, a “vocal trapeze artist” hailed for her “sweet sound and floating high notes” (The New York Times), and Grammy Award-winning bass-baritone Dashon Burton, who delivers “the kind of top-shelf performance that has sealed his reputation as one of today’s most compelling performers” (The Boston Globe). Pacific Symphony joins the chorus for the eclectic program as well, which opens with the world premiere of The Quickening, a new choral fanfare by Grammy-nominated former Pacific Chorale Composer-in-Residence Tarik O’Regan, and also showcases the West Coast premiere of Frank Ticheli’s Until Forever Fades Away, a poetic meditation on the elusive nature of time. Other works include Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s playful Music in Common Time for choir and orchestra and Jake Runestad’s exuberant setting of Whitman’s “Proud Music of the Storm,” evoking the spirit of adventure.
“Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem is an extraordinary work that pleads with us to consider choosing peaceful resolutions to conflicts,” says Istad. “Filled with haunting modal melodies amidst brilliant orchestrations, the work weaves anti-war poetry by Walt Whitman with Biblical references to peace-making, creating a narrative that is both extremely moving and profound. I’ve paired it with works by four other composers with whom I feel a deep connection.”
O’Regan, a musical “chameleon” with “shifting styles” (Texas Classical Review), is collaborating on his new choral-orchestral fanfare for Pacific Chorale with Orange County-based poet and activist Marcus Omari to create a work brimming with energy and power. Omari is a critically acclaimed purveyor of verse, six-time National Speech and Debate Award winner and founding member of the San Diego Slam Poetry Team.
Shaw – hailed as a “classical sensation” (The Guardian) for whom the “voice becomes a visceral embodiment of shape and texture” (New York Times) – at age 30 became the youngest-ever winner of the Pulitzer Prize for music. Music in Common Time, her imaginative post-minimalist work without text, explores the variety of sounds the human voice can create.
Ticheli’s vibrant and thought-provoking Until Forever Fades Away includes both text and music by the “optimistic and thoughtful” (Los Angeles Times) composer, who is also a composition professor at USC’s Thornton School of Music, and a long-time collaborator with Pacific Chorale.
Istad states, “Featuring on our season finale Jake Runestad’s Proud Music of the Storm, which is cinematic in scope and deeply emotional, is especially meaningful to me because we both grew up in the same northern Illinois town of Rockford.” Proclaimed a “choral rockstar” (American Public Media), Runestad is one of the most frequently performed and commissioned composers of choral music in the world, having “a particular knack for marrying powerful music to texts that speak to some of the most pressing and moving issues of our time” (Star Tribune).
Directly following the concert, Pacific Chorale will hold its annual gala, this year themed “A Celebration of the Voice” and honoring Pacific Chorale singer and philanthropist, Lenora Meister with the Entrepreneur of the Arts Award, and Pacific Symphony Music Director Carl St.Clair with the Lifetime Achievement for Artistic Excellence, in honor of his three decades of artistic collaboration with the Chorale. All proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Chorale’s artistic and educational programming.
Pacific Chorale’s 2021-22 Season is made possible by generous support from Platinum Season Sponsor Phillip N. and Mary A. Lyons, Silver Season Sponsor Charles and Ling Zhang, and Silver Season Corporate Sponsor Salt-Away Products.
Single tickets for “Dona Nobis Pacem” range from $25-$135. The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626. Audience members must show proof of vaccination and wear masks inside the venue (COVID protocols detailed below). For tickets and information, visit http://www.pacificchorale.org or call 714-662-2345. For tickets and information about the Pacific Chorale Gala, visit http://www.pacificchorale.org/gala.
ROBERT ISTAD, who “fashions fluent and sumptuous readings” (Voice of OC) with his “phenomenal” artistry (Los Angeles Times), was appointed Pacific Chorale’s Artistic Director in 2017. Under his leadership, the chorus continues to expand its reputation for excellence for delivering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of beloved masterworks, rarely performed gems and newly commissioned pieces. His artistic impact can be heard on two recent recordings featuring Pacific Chorale: “Mahler’s Eighth Symphony” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on Deutsche Grammophon (2021), for which he prepared the chorus, and “All Things Common: The Music of Tarik O’Regan,” which he conducted, on Yarlung Records (2020). Istad has also prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Williams, John Mauceri, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Carl St.Clair, Eugene Kohn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody. He regularly conducts and collaborates with Pacific Symphony, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Sony Classical Records, Yarlung Records, Berkshire Choral International, and Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. An esteemed educator, Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Fullerton, where he was recognized as CSUF’s 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. He conducts the University Singers and manages a large graduate conducting program, in addition to teaching courses on conducting and performance practice. Istad, who is on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America and serves as Dean of Chorus America’s Conducting Academy, is in demand as guest conductor, lecturer, and clinician.
PACIFIC CHORALE, an Orange County “treasure” with a “fresh viewpoint” that “can sing anything you put in front of it, with polish, poise and tonal splendor” (Orange County Register) has “risen to national prominence” (Los Angeles Times) since its inception in 1968. Hailed for delivering “thrilling entertainment” (Voice of OC), the resident choir at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is noted for its artistic innovation and commitment to expanding the choral repertoire. It has given world, U.S., and West Coast premieres of more than 35 works, including numerous commissions, by such lauded composers as John Adams, Jake Heggie, James Hopkins, David Lang, Morten Lauridsen, Ravel, Tarik O’Regan, Karen Thomas, Frank Ticheli, András Gábor Virágh, and Eric Whitacre. In addition to presenting its own concert series each season, Pacific Chorale enjoys a long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, with whom the choir made its highly anticipated Carnegie Hall debut in 2018. The chorus also regularly appears with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, earning two 2022 Grammy Award nominations – Best Choral Performance and Best Engineered Album, Classical – for its contribution to the live classical recording of “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony of A Thousand,’” conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, featuring Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson and Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale. The choir has performed with such leading orchestras as the Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Musica Angelica, among others. Pacific Chorale has garnered international acclaim as well, having toured extensively to more than 19 countries in Europe, South America, and Asia, and through collaborations with the London Symphony, Munich Symphony, L’Orchestre Lamoureux and L’Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l’Île of Paris, National Orchestra of Belgium, China National Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Estonian National Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina, among others. Deeply committed to making choral music accessible to people of all ages, the organization, which has a discography of 14 self-produced recordings and an extensive collection of exceptional free digital offerings, places a significant emphasis on choral music education, providing after-school vocal programs for elementary school students, a choral summer camp for high school students, and an annual community-wide singing event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. www.pacificchorale.org