The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
By Jennifer Weismann, VocalEssence
The US premiere of acclaimed English composer Jonathan Dove’s There Was a Child opens the 2013-2014 VocalEssence season on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 4 p.m. The one and only performance will be held in the newly refurbished Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, and will feature the 100-voice VocalEssence Chorus and 32-voice Ensemble Singers, as well as The St. Olaf Choir, Northfield Youth Choir, well-known vocalists Maria Jette and Dan Dressen, and conductor Philip Brunelle.
Photo by Hugo Glendinning
Written in 2011 as a tribute to Jonathan Dove’s friend’s son, There Was a Child is a soul-baring journey through a young man’s life from childhood to manhood. The score is reminiscent of music by Dove’s fellow Englishmen Benjamin Britten and Ralph Vaughan Williams. The performance will also include works from contemporary American composers Conrad Susa, Aaron Jay Kernis, René Clausen and Eric Whitacre, as well as 20th century Norwegian composers Egil Hovland and F. Melius Christiansen.
“Dove is a tremendously talented composer who can move gracefully between traditional opera and the non-traditional. This piece is actually a series of poems, penned by different authors, which Dove set to music,” says Philip Brunelle, founder and artistic director, VocalEssence. “His work underscores our VocalEssence core belief that music can be — and is — a living art form.”
As a special bonus for ticketholders, Jonathan Dove and Minnesota Public Radio’s classical music expert John Birge will conduct a pre-concert conversation at 3 p.m. at Orchestra Hall, providing Dove’s personal stories and unique insights into the performance.
The composer will be familiar to Minneapolis and St. Paul audiences who attended the U.S. premiere in 2009 of his work, The Adventures of Pinocchio, performed by the Minnesota Opera.
For more information, visit www.vocalessence.org/child.