VoXX in Concert: Music of the Spirit
The auditioned mid-coast a cappella vocal ensemble VoXX: Voice of Twenty will augment the joys of the summer season with its July 2018 concert series. With “Music of the Spirit,” the group will take audiences on a journey through time and space via repertoire that ranges from the 16th to the 21st centuries and includes a short detour to Russia.
VoXX will sing in five very different concert spaces, each chosen for its fine acoustics. Venues range from Beechnut, a 100-year-old stone building atop Beech Hill in Rockport (July 1) through Rockport’s lovely Union Hall (July 6), the Belfast Armory (July 7), and the Old South Cushing Church (July 8). The series finale will be a performance at the acoustically magnificent Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Lewiston (July 13).
The “Spirit” theme will be developed through a pair of polyphonic, 16th-Century pieces: Palestrina’s Veni Creator Spiritus (“Come Holy Spirit”) and the five-part Dum Complerentur dies Pentecostes (“When the day of Pentecost was fully come”), by Tomas Luis de Victoria. The performance of early works is a staple of the VoXX repertoire; others in this concert include William Byrd’s Miserere Mei, Deus and the Kyrie from Tomas Luis de Victoria’s Missa pro Defunctis.
As the group journeys through the ages, early works will be contrasted with more contemporary pieces. The singers will pair a 16th-Century setting of O Sacrum Convivium (O Sacred Banquet) by Thomas Tallis with an aurally challenging version by the twentieth-century French composer, Olivier Messiaen. The haunting part-song Rest, a setting by Ralph Vaughan Williams of a poem by Christina Rossetti, and a lovely version of Ave Maris Stella by living composer James Macmillan, will round out the contemporary offerings. The newest piece on the program will be Magnificat, composed in 2018 by Music Director John Mehrmann.
In a departure from the group’s usual repertoire and language skill-set, VoXX will present a set of three short pieces sung in Old Church Slavonic. Otche Nash (the Lord’s Prayer) set by Stravinsky, and two versions of Bogoroditse Devo (Ave Maria), one by Stravinsky and the other by Rachmaninoff, will transport audiences briefly to Russia.
Although VoXX is a chamber ensemble with about 20 members, it is a group signature to perform some pieces in even smaller configurations. For this concert series, the men will perform Ave Maria Mater Dei by William Cornysh and the women will sing Gustav Holst’s Ave Maria. A mixed ensemble setting of the majestic Lux Aeterna by Sir Edward Elgar (an arrangement of the well-known Nimrod Variation) will round out the small ensemble selections.
VoXX will present “Music of the Spirit” five times in July as follows:
July 1: Beechnut, Beech Hill, Rockport, 4 p.m. Free*
July 6: Union Hall, 24 Central St., Rockport. 7:30 p.m. $15
July 7: Belfast Armory, U.S. Rte. One, Belfast 7:30 p.m. $15
July 8: Old South Cushing Church, Salt Pond Rd., 2 p.m. $15
July 13: Basilica of Saints Peter & Paul, 122 Ash St., Lewiston, 7:30 p.m. $15
Tickets are $15 (cash or check), available at the door. FMI: www.voiceoftwenty.com
*On July 1, please arrive early to allow time for the .75-mile hike up to Beechnut. Shuttle at 3:15 p.m. for those in need, e-mail email@example.com for a ride.