The Canticus Vocal Ensemble returns to center stage to perform “Songs of Hope,” a world premiere for three commissioned works that welcome – after many months of obscurity during the pandemic – a brighter future.
The first Central Washington Chamber Choir concert will be held Nov. 13 at 4 p.m. in the sanctuary of the Englewood Christian Church, 511 N. 44th Ave.
Made possible by a grant from the Washington State Commission on the Arts, “Songs of Hope” spotlights three of the Pacific Northwest’s finest composers.
Daniel Schreiner earned degrees in music education and choir conducting from Central Washington University. An award-winning composer, Schreiner received the 2011 Opus 7 Undergraduate Composition Award for his piece “Cain” and the 2020 Robert Scandrett Memorial Graduate Composition Award for his piece “I Am Glad.” Two years ago, Canticus Vocal Ensemble performed one of his compositions.
A strong supporter of musical theatre, Schreiner is resident musical director of ManeStage in Puyallup. Since 2010, he has made more than 30 feature films with ManeStage,
His “A Glimpse of Hope” is inspired by the words of the members of the Canticus Vocal Ensemble, who were asked to answer the question: “What is hope?”
“The piece begins with a repeating musical motif that blossoms and grows like a sunrise,” Schreiner said. This pattern is interwoven throughout the piece and represents “a faint glimmer of hope”.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Chris Wallitner is also a graduate of Central Washington University, where he earned a degree in music composition. He is a performer, poet and composer whose works have been staged across the country. For two years, he has been part of the bass section of Canticus.
Wallitner said his work, “I Have Hope,” is a “declaration and promise that no matter how bad things get, things will get better.” The piece begins with darkness and uncertainty, with words such as “doubt” and “fear” being sung. And yet, despite these dark images, the word “hope” arises. As the piece progresses, he said, “you’ll hear that hope grow and grow clearer and brighter until it can no longer be ignored.”
Vijay Singh lives in Ellensburg, where he is professor of music at Central Washington University. He is a composer, teacher and conductor. An accomplished bass-baritone soloist, he has performed with such notable groups as Male Ensemble Northwest, the Oregon Symphony, the Robert Shaw Chorale and is a member of the award-winning a cappella jazz quartet, Just 4 Kicks. He has also conducted all-state choirs in over 26 states.
Singh’s work, “A Chrysalis of Threefold Memories”, is divided into three sections. The initial piece, Singh said, is “visceral, angry, confused, shocked, sad, resigned — all the emotions we felt when COVID first hit.” It ends with the choir singing in unison simple pitches realizing that “we can only control ourselves”.
The second piece, “I Wake Up,” depicts the long period following the initial shock of the pandemic as everyone tried to adjust to a new order of government lockdowns, mandates and restrictions. Singh said he developed the piece around the image of an unfolding chrysalis, with the interplay of piano and vocals “weaving a cocoon of sound” that becomes “ultimately beautiful”.
His latest track exudes optimism for the future and is written in a rhythmic American folksong style. The final verses highlight the phrase “Truth is spreading everywhere” and culminates with “Hope is spreading everywhere”, completing what Singh said embraces the overall theme of the concert.
“Songs of Hope” is the Canticus Vocal Ensemble’s first Yakima appearance since their critically acclaimed rendition of Handel’s “Messiah” in December 2019.
The concert is presented in cooperation with the Second Sunday Series of the Englewood Christian Church.
Tickets will be sold at the door and online at www.yakimacanticus.com. Admission to the concert is $20 for adults and $5 for students. Credit cards are accepted.
Dr. Scott Peterson will conduct the “Songs of Hope” concert. He is artistic director and founder of Canticus Vocal Ensemble. He formed Canticus as an independent chamber choral ensemble for central Washington singers.
Peterson has been present in the Central Washington choral music scene for several decades as a former director of choral activities at Yakima Valley College and a former choirmaster for the Yakima Symphony Chorus. He is currently a lecturer in choral studies at CWU.
Accompanist Anne Schilperoort, who operates a teaching studio in Yakima, has worked with Peterson since 1990. Under her direction, she has also accompanied university choirs, church choirs and the Yakima Symphony Chorus.
• Spencer Hatton is the secretary of the Canticus Vocal Ensemble and is a former city editor, editorial page editor and columnist for the Yakima Herald-Republic.