This season, Masterworks Choral Ensemble’s concerts will celebrate journeys, from people’s journeys through life to a concert inspired by cruise ships.
The choir embarks on its season Oct. 8 with “Transcendence: Songs About Love, Life & Purpose.”
“Our lives are journeys,” said Gary Witley, the ensemble’s artistic director. “We journey from being a young child to an adolescent to a young adult to an adult to a senior. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to pick a set of songs that speak to that journey?’ ”
The resulting program of songs ranges from the sublime (Kurt Bestor’s haunting “Prayer of the Children,” written about those suffering in Yugoslavia’s civil war and since sung in response to tragedies from 9/11 to Sandy Hook) to the silly (a contemporary update of Stephen Foster’s Civil War-era “If You’ve Only Got a Moustache,” about how facial hair can solve any problem).
As usual, Witley selected the songs that touched him and fit together well. He was surprised to discover after making the selections that he’d chosen four by a single composer, David N. Childs of Dallas.
“It just happened that way,” Witley said. “They are just beautiful, and that’s how I chose them. His music really speaks to me as a composer and as a listener.”
The coincidence is even stranger because Masterworks, beginning its 36th season, has never before performed any of Childs’ work.
“It’s fun to do four pieces by one composer,” said Sally Alhadeff, the president of the ensemble’s board. “Each of them is very different.”
Childs wrote the lyrics for the “Hands Across the Universe.”
“It’s a song of peace, a song of joy and a song of hope,” Alhadeff said.
The other pieces are poems set to music — “Set Me as a Seal Upon Your Heart,” from the Song of Solomon; John Keats’ “Weep No More” and Sara Teasdale’s “I Am Not Yours,” a bittersweet love poem sung by the women of the choir.
“He’s an extremely accomplished composer,” Alhadeff said. “It’s some of the most beautiful and haunting music we’ve ever done.”
Transcendence: Songs About Love, Life & Purpose
What: Masterworks Choral Ensemble begins its 36th season with a program of songs about life’s big moments. The program will include a performance by pianist Kaloyan Menser, a winner of the 2016 Masterworks Youth Music Competition. Kaloyan, 11, is in fifth grade at Hansen Elementary.
When: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 8.
Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts, 512 Washington St. SE, Olympia.
Tickets: $22; $18 for students, seniors and military; $10 for youths 14 and younger.
Season tickets: $106, $89 for students, seniors and military; without the Harmony Sweepstakes, $82, $70 for students, seniors and military.
Singers needed: Masterworks is seeking more male singers and welcomes men to audition before the next open audition in January. For details, visit mce.org and click on “auditions.”
The rest of the season
Dec. 3: “Jingle: A Christmas Celebration,” which ensemble artistic director Gary Witley described as “a journey to that magical kid place of Christmas.”
March 18: Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival, hosted by Restless Vocal Band, last year’s Pacific Northwest champions.
April 8: “Outback Odyssey,” featuring choral and orchestral music from Australia.
June 17: “Musical Comedy Cruise,” featuring songs from exotic destinations and plenty of humor.