Music

Uplifting voices of 'Love'

Community chorus explores connection among people, nature and God's love

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 11/20/19

The selection process for the approaching concert for the Taos Community Choir was a bit like a blind date between Erick Brunner, the director of the chorus, and professor André García-Nuthmann, the director of Highlands University Madrigal Choir, also known as El Coro de la Tierra Alta.

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Music

Uplifting voices of 'Love'

Community chorus explores connection among people, nature and God's love

Posted

The selection process for the approaching concert for the Taos Community Choir was a bit like a blind date between Erick Brunner, the director of the chorus, and professor André García-Nuthmann, the director of Highlands University Madrigal Choir, also known as El Coro de la Tierra Alta. Brunner said the two directors communicated their choices for the upcoming collaboration by email, not knowing the mystery of what the other would select until much later.

The concert program wound up being all about love in different forms.

Brunner explains, "This has been quite the adventure, assembling all the components of this rather eclectic program entitled 'Love.' In a world that needs as much love as it can get, it seemed appropriate to explore the many facets of the subject - not only romantic love, but love for our planet, our shared home with the other creatures who call Earth theirs and our love for all humanity."

The choral celebration of love starts at 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 23-24) at St James Episcopal Church, 208 Camino de Santiago. Tickets for the Taos concerts are $15 at the door; $12 for seniors; and 18 and under free.

Brunner said uncovering the mystery of what pieces García-Nuthmann picked revealed two he had not heard before, and would hear for the first time in the inaugural concert, which took place Sunday (Nov. 17) in Las Vegas, a warmup for the Taos performance. The collaboration between the two directors "has been easy to put together because of the level of ability of the performers"

Brunner highlighted the Viennese waltz. He said he is looking forward to slowing the pace of the piece as "it has been my impression from listening to others perform the waltzes there is a tendency to make them fast - they come out more like concert pieces than the elegant grace of a Viennese waltz. They are meant to be stand-alone choral pieces, [and] I intend to slow them down so the audience can savor the beauty."

García-Nuthmann said this is not his first performance with TCC. "I have been invited as a guest soloist with TCC now for four years," he said. "Last year, Erick invited me to sing the tenor solos for Messiah. Erick and I clicked and a great friendship ensued.

"I mentioned that I have a wonderful chamber choir and told Erick that it would be so much fun to combine both groups. I'm very proud of my choir and I respect and love working with TCC, Every time I come to Taos I receive a spiritual fulfillment that I don't experience anywhere else I go. Maybe it's the profound beauty of the surroundings and the kindness of the people that live there. I always feel so welcome."

García-Nuthmann said his personal favorites in the program are the Brahms' "Liebeslieder Waltzes." "I love Gjielo's adaptation of 'Ubi Caritas' and the 'Wedding Chorus' from Vaughan Williams," he said. "After Erick and I discussed the main theme of 'Love,' I glanced through my repertoire of choir music and searched for music focusing on love. Through my research I found pieces that mentioned love between two people, love of nature and God's love of mankind."

He continued, "The Taos audience will receive a beautiful selection of music that should inspire a sense of joy and love in all their forms. My choir and I are so excited about this collaboration. Who knows - maybe we will do this again."

According to the final program, the two choruses will perform a three-part program, one featuring TCC, one featuring El Coro de la Tierra Alta and one featuring the combined choruses singing the first set of Liebeslieder Waltzes of Johannes Brahms. Since the Brahms pieces focus on romantic love, all other concert selections will fall into other "love" categories. Compositions by René Clausen, G.T. Holst, Frank Ticheli, Jonathan Larson and Bill Douglas, among others, will be sung as part of the program.

Bruner will share conducting duties with García-Nuthmann, while Martha Shepp and Edwin Aybar will be the accompanists.

Taos Community Chorus is a nonprofit organization funded by the singers, ticket sales, private donations and in part by New Mexico Arts, a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, the NEA, Taos Community Foundation and the McCune Foundation. For more information about the Taos Community Chorus, call (575) 758-2790 or visit taoschorus.org.

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