Orlando Sings Presents Third Annual Choral Festival In Downtown Orlando

The third annual Orlando Sings Choral Festival will take place at First United Methodist Church of Orlando on April 30th and May 3rd and will feature its flagship ensemble, the Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus along with its 50-voice auditioned ensemble for soprano and alto voices Harmonia.

The two-day festival will take audience members on a journey East and West. On April 30th the festival takes us East with a program that highlights the rich, captivating choral traditions of South Korea. Esteemed international guest conductor Dong-Kyu Lee will lead both choirs in a performance of contemporary Korean choral music, some of which will be heard for the first time in North America. One powerful piece on the program is composer KyungSuk Cheon’s The Song of Iris Rossii: Requiem for the Comfort Women.

Comfort women were women and girls, mostly from Korea, who were forced into sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Armed Forces in occupied countries and territories before and during World War II. Cheon’s piece commemorates these women and is based on a traditional Korean funeral procession, including ceremonial percussion.

“The choral music artform is a powerful instrument for shining light on problems that plague society. We hope that this performance brings awareness and helps to promote the local nonprofit organizations that work to eradicate human trafficking and support individuals who have been exploited.” – Dr. Andrew Minear, artistic and executive director

The program opens with a special performance by the new Orlando Sings Senior Singers, with retiree singers from The Mayflower Winter Park, Westminster Towers, and the community at large. Then the adult auditioned soprano-alto chorus Harmonia will perform a set from their upcoming recording project, entitled “In Spirit We Will Fly!” , an album of contemporary American music for treble voices. Highlights include “Broken” by composer Dominick DiOrio and “While I Breathe, I Hope” by Jocelyn Hagen, the composer of “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci”, a highlight from the 2023 Choral Festival.

May 3 Concert

On May 3rd, the second concert of the festival, entitled “The Road West”, takes us to Europe as audience members encounter the tradition, innovation, and beauty of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem. 2024 marks 100 years since Fauré’s death. He was one of the most revered composers of the late 19th century and his beautiful Requiem, unlike traditional requiem settings, embraces a serene and contemplative approach, focusing on the themes of rest, peace, and eternal light.

The concert will feature soprano soloist Samantha Barnes Daniel, and baritone Matthew Astone, both members of Orlando Sings’ professional award-winning ensemble Solaria. We are thrilled that the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra will once again join Orlando Sings for this year’s festival. Concertmaster Rimma Bergeron-Langlois will play the beautiful violin solo in the third movement.

Paired on the concert with Faure’s Requiem will be composer Reena Esmail’s Malhaar: A Requiem for Water, which demonstrates the composer’s unique and groundbreaking blend of Indian and Western classical styles.

In Hindustani music, “Malhaar” refers to a family of raags that beckon rain. The work intertwines texts from the traditional Latin Requiem mass alongside the work of Wendell Berry and William O’Daly, along with interspersed Hindi text. It traces a trajectory of beauty and awe of water, the fear and devastation around its loss, an answered plea of atonement, and eventually a promise of a new cycle of life. This piece will feature renowned Hindustani soprano Saili Oak and tabla recording artist Shankh Lahiri.

“Both works are full of hope as they guide the listener through a spectrum of feelings – from contemplation to exultation, from reflection to catharsis. In this powerful fusion of west and east, timeless and contemporary, we are reminded of our connection with the earth and our common humanity.”  – Dr. Andrew Minear, artistic and executive director

A catered dinner will precede the performance on May 3rd where conductors and performers will give a presentation and be available to answer questions about the music.

Performance Notes

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