It is with great sadness that we record the passing of one of the Chorus’s most stalwart members, Deane Thompson. His choral experience was long indeed, and his musicianship made him an invaluable member of the tenor section. After retiring from the choir that he loved so much – working with both Philip Barnes and his predecessor, Stephen Curtis – Deane joined the board, on which he served as treasurer for several seasons.
Deane brought to our organization many musical qualities, ranging from perfect pitch to a sensitivity to whatever he was singing. But what marked him out was his sense of perspective, having seen the choir in periods of both challenge and abundance. He offered beautiful singing and perceptive insight and would comment where appropriate. Deane always expressed his appreciation for our efforts, and his quiet words of encouragement bolstered many a chorister, not to mention conductor.
Such was Deane’s generosity that we will not be alone in mourning his loss among the artistic and spiritual life of St. Louis. To Fancine, and to all their family and friends, we express our thanks for his remarkable contribution to the Chorus.
Melissa Dunphy Visits
Brittany Woods Middle School
As part of the Chamber Chorus’ outreach efforts to encourage young musicians and advocate for women composers, visiting composer Melissa Dunphy spent time with students at Brittany Woods Middle School in University City. To the students’ surprise Dunphy shared that she didn’t start her career thinking she’d become a musician and composer. In fact, her mom wanted her to pursue a medical degree and she spent some time training for a medical profession. But ultimately, Dunphy's call to music was too strong to deny. To encourage their own inner musicians, Dunphy asked the students if they’d ever thought about becoming a composer and described how they already were composers if they’ve ever hummed or sung their own note passages. At one point, a student asked “what’s your most useless talent?” Dunphy then proceeded to play the piano upside down. She generously engaged students for 90 minutes of lecture, evoking thoughtful questions and discussions from the students.
Honoring Sarah Bryan Miller
In celebration of and appreciation for the insights and advocacy of Sarah Bryan Miller, the classical music critic of the Post-Dispatch, the Chamber Chorus has formed a consortium with several choirs to commission a new piece from the celebrated British composer, Judith Bingham. Joining the Chamber Chorus in this initiative are the choirs of St. Peter’s, Ladue; Holy Communion Episcopal Church, University City; Third Baptist, Grand Center; Temple Shaare Emeth, Creve Coeur; and Washington University. Judith will create a new arrangement of Psalm 121 which the ensembles will perform this fall at their various locations.
Bryan wrote her first review of the Chamber Chorus in the spring of 1999, marking this as her 20th year attending and reviewing its performances. Such a recognition of Bryan is long overdue; we have all been challenged by her shrewd observations and have raised our own standards to meet her very high ones. Not since Frank Peters, Jr., has the newspaper and this city enjoyed such a rigorous champion of choral music.
Mårten Jansson, SLCC Composer-in-Residence
Don't miss the chance to hear the premiere of Hope—the first piece written by Mårten Jansson in his tenure as the Chorus' Composer-In-Residence—on Sunday, May 26th at Congregation Shaare Emeth.
Mårten lives with his family in the Swedish city of Uppsala, where he was born in 1965. A graduate of the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, he spent many years working with Carmen, a prominent choir for women’s voices. To this experience he attributes much of his early success, often writing for female voices. Even now he is a teacher, which he combines with a conducting and composing career; the latter has brought invitations to present at choral symposia throughout Europe, most recently in Germany and Latvia.
In 2012 Mårten was elected to the Society of Swedish Composers (FST), around the time that he began in earnest writing for mixed voices. His first efforts, for the Royal Chapel in Stockholm and various German choirs, attracted the attention and then support of Bärenreiter Edition, for whom he now writes exclusively. This distinguished publisher promotes Mårten’s works worldwide, with the result that his music is heard and recorded on both sides of the Atlantic. Following the warm reception given here to two of his earlier pieces, the Chamber Chorus commissioned from him Tonight I Dance Alone, to open our 62nd season. This piece may be heard on our website, and as a result of this positive collaboration, Mårten was invited to succeed Melissa Dunphy as our Composer-in-Residence, writing one piece per season for the Chamber Chorus starting in 2019 and serving until 2021.
It’s ironic that Mårten’s artistic creed is “my music is my own and I have never tried to be original;” for he is so often original in the way he treats familiar texts, or how he conveys universal emotions. He takes inspiration from a variety of sources, principal of which are his faith and his family. As Mårten gains even greater popularity in North America, we look forward to collaborating with him on several works as a gift not only to St. Louis, but also to the wider musical community.
Opening of the 63rd Season
Delights Audience with Eriks Esenvalds’ On Friendship
The Chamber Chorus’ 63rd season commenced with music written by and for friends. The highlight was a commission from renowned Latvian composer, Eriks Esenvalds. Hailed as “one of Barnes’ most appealing commissions” by Sarah Bryan Miller of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, the piece set to music the poem On Friendship by Khalil Gibran. It was commissioned by Alison Ferring and Nancy Kranzberg in honor of their dear friend Alice Sherwood who sang in the St. Louis Chamber Chorus for many years and is still a dedicated supporter. Enjoy excerpts from the commission, as well as an interview with Esenvalds.