A Feast for the Senses!
Choral Artists of Sarasota Presents
“Carmina Burana in Motion”
Saturday, February 3 Church of the Palms
This lush reimaging of the choral masterpiece “Carmina Burana” features dynamic choreography by Leymis Bolaños Wilmott performed by members of Sarasota Contemporary Dance. Set to Carl Orff’s masterful score, the production features 60 combined voices of the Choral Artists of Sarasota, Sarasota Young Voices and
three celebrated soloists.
“Everything that’s important in life is in this piece.”
—Marin Alsop, Director, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
(Sarasota, FL) Carl Orff’s classical choral masterpiece “Carmina Burana” will burst into life in a lush production designed for two choruses, three soloists, a two-piano percussion ensemble, and dynamic premiere choreography of Leymis Bolaños Wilmott of Sarasota Contemporary Dance. “Carmina Burana in Motion” is presented by Choral Artists of Sarasota, Saturday, February 3, 4 p.m., at Church of the Palms, 3224 Bee Ridge Road, Sarasota. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. $15 student tickets are available with ID at the door. For tickets and info, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org or call 941-387-4900.
“Carmina Burana in Motion” will offer a bold, multisensory reimagining of the classic parable under the direction of Joseph Holt, the artistic director of Choral Artists of Sarasota. The production will artfully integrate the glorious sound of the human voice with the visual spectacle of dance. Members of Sarasota Contemporary Dance will perform Leymis Bolaños Wilmott’s original, site-specific choreography. The production also features the Sarasota Young Voices, and soloists Catherine Wethington, coloratura soprano; Timur Bekbosunov, tenor; and Jason Stearns, baritone. Finally, 17 young fourth and fifth grade students from Wakeland Elementary School in Manatee County will perform a musical prelude to the concert. As members of the Orff Orchestra under the direction of Ian Cicco, a Choral Artist member, the students will perform using Orff percussion instruments.
Holt explains that Orff composed two different arrangements of “Carmina Burana”—one with full orchestra and the other in a two-piano, percussion ensemble version. As a chamber ensemble, Choral Artists will be presenting the masterpiece in the two-piano, percussion ensemble version.
According to Holt, “Carmina Burana” is a 20th-century choral masterpiece expressing ancient themes. “Orff composed this scenic cantata in 1936 based upon a bawdy collection of medieval poetry written by monks discovered in the spine of an ancient book.” He explains that Orff’s cantata explores the caprice of fortune, the transitory nature of life, sensual love, drunken monks, and the joy of spring’s return. The triumphant choral work is often referred to as a “gothic melodrama” and a morality play; it remains one of the most popular pieces of the classical music repertoire. “Orff designed this piece to be part of a multimedia experience from the beginning,” Holt adds. “Dance was always meant to be a key element.”
To honor Orff’s original intention, Holt sought out Leymis Bolaños Wilmott—the celebrated choreographer and artistic director and founder of Sarasota Contemporary Dance.
Wilmott was immediately intrigued when Holt first approached her with this commission. “I spent hours learning more about ‘Carmina’—and fell in love with the rich music and multidimensional story,” she says. “This piece is truly a feast for the senses; there’s so much movement and drama that creating the choreography has been a joy.” She adds that creating a literal interpretation was never her goal. “There are times I play against the music,” she says. “When the music is dramatic, the dance doesn’t have to be.”
According to Wilmott, the performance space itself presented a choreographic challenge. “The Church of the Palms obviously isn’t the typical rectangular stage you’d find in an auditorium,” she says. “Every church has its own unique set of parameters. Here, there are altars and a semi-circular projection going out into the auditorium. Designing for this space took many creative leaps!”
Sarasota Young Voices was founded by Geneviève Beauchamp in 2007, and has quickly grown into one of Florida’s best children’s choruses, receiving critical acclaim for performances. The ensembles perform several times a year in a variety of events striving to reach out and touch the community in many ways.
Catherine Wethington, coloratura soprano, has been praised for her intelligent artistry, delicate pianissimos, and expansive range. Comfortable in comedic and dramatic roles she has performed many leading roles including Gilda, in Verdi’s “Rigoletto,” Zerlina, in Mozart’s “Don Giovanni,” Eurydice, in Offenbach’s “Orpheé aux enfers,” Suor Genovieffa, in Puccini’s “Suor Angelica,” Olympia, in Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” and Monica, in Menotti’s “The Medium.” In addition, Wethington is no stranger to the concert stage. She has performed Strauss’ “Brentano Lieder” and Milhaud’s “Quatre Chansons de Ronsard”. She has given lecture recitals, chamber recitals, and has premiered many new works for voice and piano. In 2015, she debuted on the Kennedy Center Concert Stage as a soprano soloist in Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” and reprised the solos with the Choral Arts Society of Washington in May of that year.
Baritone Jason Stearns has steadily built a reputation as a distinguished interpreter of the most unique and challenging roles in the dramatic baritone repertoire. Stearns has made impressive appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago the Savonlinna Festival, and the Los Angeles Opera.
Tenor Timur Bekbosunov has been called an “extravagantly transgressive tenor” with a “stratospheric voice” (Los Angeles Times) and is a noted interpreter of contemporary and cross-cultural music. He has made solo appearances with Los Angeles Philharmonic, Bang on a Can All-Stars, Long Beach Opera, Israeli Opera/JMCLA, Santa Cecilia Academy, LOOS Ensemble, Opera Boston, Spoleto Festival dei Due Mondi, Victoria Symphony, Oregon Mozart Players, National Palace of the Arts in Budapest, Opera Kansas, among many others. Described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “sybaritic delight,” Bekbosunov has collaborated with many celebrated contemporary composers, including but not limited to Thomas Adès (Powder Her Face), Evan Ziporyn (A House in Bali, Oedipus, F.A.Q.), the late Gian-Carlo Menotti (Orpheus), Meyer Kupferman (In a Garden), Veronika Krausas (Lady M), Peter Eötvös (Snatches of a Conversations), Tobias Picker (An American Tragedy); and film composers Charles Bernstein, Joel Goldsmith, and Nick Urat.
Founded in 1979, Choral Artists of Sarasota (formerly Gloria Musicae), Sarasota’s professional chorus, presents the greatest hits of the last four centuries along with lesser known gems and the work of living composers with imaginative programming and musical excellence. The chorus consists of 34 professional singers and eight apprentices.
For more information, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org.
About the Choral Artists of Sarasota
The Choral Artists of Sarasota, now in its 39th season, features 32 of the region’s most notable professional singers. The group celebrates the rich, artistic expressiveness of choral music through innovative repertoire, inspired performances and stimulating educational outreach. Under the artistic direction of Dr. Joseph Holt, Choral Artists of Sarasota performs a repertoire spanning four centuries, and includes symphonic choral works, intimate madrigals, folk songs, close-harmony jazz, and Broadway show music. The ensemble also specializes in premiere performances of lesser-known choral works—particularly music by living American composers. Choral Artists of Sarasota has performed premieres by René Clausen, Dick Hyman, Robert Levin, Gwyneth Walker and James Grant. As part of the organization’s educational outreach, eight young singers, ages 16 to 22, are invited to join the group each year. For more information, visit www.ChoralArtistsSarasota.org.