The Bucks County Choral Society will conclude its 50th Anniversary Season with a concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, June 4, at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Doylestown.
Titled “Life begins at 50 – Our journey so far and our hopes for the future,” the highlight of the program will be a newly commissioned work by composer John Conahan and poet Emily Fulmer.
The 17-minute work, titled “Life, Death, & Cats,” is in four movements, with emotions ranging from playfulness to affection to sorrow, all related to the poet’s memories of her childhood, her calico cat, and her beloved sister, Julianne.
The remainder of the program will reflect the remarkable stylistic range and variety of the choir’s repertoire over its 50-year span, from beloved classics such as the “Sanctus” from the Duruflé Requiem and the sacred jazz of composer Jay Fluellen (present to accompany his own piece), to standards arranged for Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, popular selections from opera and musical theater, African American Spirituals, and favorites from international choir tours to Estonia and Cuba.
The program will also feature a performance by Jackson Manning of Central Bucks West High School, the most recent winner of the choir’s “Voices of the Future” competition. Manning will sing Sondheim’s “Love, I hear” with Choral Society accompanist Timothy Harrell at the piano. Other choirs closely connected to the Choral Society will also be featured, including the men’s vocal ensemble Cordus Mundi, and the Village Voices of Pine Run, led by Susan Johnson, assistant conductor and director of the Choral Society’s “Singing for Seniors” program.
Conahan is a composer and conductor whose vocal works have been commissioned and performed by a wide range of ensembles and soloists such as The Crossing, Lyric Fest, Denyce Graves, and Deborah Voigt. His works have been published by Hal Leonard and Boosey & Hawkes, and a collection of his complete art songs has been published by E. C. Schirmer.
Fulmer is native of St. Louis and a graduate of Pennsbury High School. She is a woman with Down Syndrome for whom writing poetry has long been a creative outlet. Her talents became known to the Choral Society through some of the choir’s singers who were either parents of children with developmental disabilities, or professional caregivers for persons with disabilities. The choir believed such a commission would represent an important part of the Choral Society’s mission of inclusion and connection to the community.
Artistic Director Thomas Lloyd will conclude the program with two choir and audience favorites. He will begin by conducting Lambertville, N.J., composer Robert Maggio’s 2008 anthem, “Into the Light,” affirming the struggle of gay persons to accept their own identity and share it with the world and conclude with Leonard Bernstein’s aspirational “Make our garden grow” from “Candide.”
The program will be 90 minutes long with intermission. For discounted advance sale tickets and information, go to www.buckschoral.org.