Bon Voyage! Choral Arts on Tour!

Jan 08, 2020

On Friday, January 10, 2020 Choral Arts is off to England with 102 travelers! You can follow our daily posts on our Facebook page (@BaltimoreChoralArts) or by searching with the hashtag #choralartsontour.

The tour is highlighted by a prestigious invitation to sing Gustav Mahler’s “Symphony of a Thousand” as part of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 100th anniversary celebration. This gala will be led by conducting superstar and CBSO Music Director Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla. The Chorus and Anthony Blake Clark will also perform at the U.S. Embassy, St Martin-in-the-Fields in London, and at Merton College in Oxford.

This tour will have a direct and tangible artistic impact on Baltimore Choral Arts. The opportunity to sing Mahler Symphony No. 8 with a world-class orchestra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I’ve been going to concerts for over 40 years, and I’ve heard all the Mahler symphonies except this one. It is such a rare and difficult undertaking – it takes enormous financial and physical resources. In Birmingham there will be 650 musicians onstage! That includes a 120 piece orchestra and five choruses. I don’t expect to have another opportunity to hear it again.

The composition is also rarely performed because it is so difficult. It is sung half in Latin and half in German. Mahler writes challenging vocal lines with large leaps. Endurance is another challenge. Instead of saving the singers until the end, as in his Second Symphony or Beethoven’s Ninth, the Eighth has singing throughout. It is the Mount Everest of symphonies with voices!

Choral Arts has been rehearsing Mahler’s 8th since September 17th. These extra and difficult rehearsals are on top of our regular busy fall schedule. While we have been learning Mahler, we have also rehearsed and performed Carmina Burana with the Maryland Symphony Orchestra, opened our new concert location at Shriver Hall Auditorium, our annual televised Christmas concert at the Baltimore Basilica, debuted a new Christmas for Kids concert, sang the National Anthem at an Orioles game, sang two concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, offered Christmas caroling in Little Italy and gave a free concert at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

When we return after two Mahler 8 performances, the chorus will have a little extra swagger in its step. Our next concert at Shriver Hall Auditorium on March 1 is another big project – the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers. We will have three different early music ensembles and multi-sensory images by MICA artists illuminating this grand and expressive masterpiece. The faces of our singers will be projecting another image – the glow from knowing they have survived Mahler 8!