Living Music

Named after a 16th-century Italian literary and artistic society called Florentine Camerata, this group kept to the salon theme and reheased in the home of the first conductor/founder from 1980-1999.

Camerata Singers’ artistic director and conductor John Koza has consistently shown a penchant for inventive programming. This weekend’s outings are no exception.

The ensemble convenes for their spring concert, themed as “Wrapped in Song,” with a decidedly contemporary bent. They sing works like Gwyneth Walker’s Harlem Songs, which features three poems penned by jazz poet and Harlem Renaissance leader Langston Hughes; The Seal Lullabyby contemporary composer Eric Whitacre and with text by poet Rudyard Kipling; Dan Forrest’s powerful, exuberant, teeming-with-life The Music of Living; and Daniel Gawthrop’s incredibly beautiful “Sing Me To Heaven,” a pastoral and almost ethereal work which, with a half-million copies in print, has become one of the most performed and recorded pieces in modern choral history.

Interspersed will be something far more traditional. “Lord, Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace” by Roger Q. Holland II is a spirited arrangement based upon the well-known prayer of St. Francis of Assisi of the same name.

This is truly a community chorus, with an inter-generational membership hailing from all walks of life – blue-collar, white-collar and no collar at all. They rehearsed for their first two decades in the home of their founder, Dr. Vahé Aslanian, until he retired in 1999.

Leadership changed hands just once to Koza, a former tenor in the ensemble. “The repertoire on this program was chosen because it has heart,” Koza says. “The music is heart-warming, beautiful and sometimes even funny.”

CAMERATA SINGERS 7:30pm Friday, May 10. St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1071 Pajaro St., Salinas; 7:30pm Saturday, May 11. First Presbyterian Church, 501 El Dorado St., Monterey. $20/Friday; $25/Saturday; free/students both nights. 642-2701, camerata-singers.org

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