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Russian Connection

SC Master Chorale gives voice to composers who have Russian roots

Posted: March 25, 2011 6:00 a.m.
Updated: March 25, 2011 6:00 a.m.

The Santa Clarita Master Chorale will present From Russia with Love - and Music! at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons on Sunday, March 27 at 2:30 p.m. The performance will feature the works of three famous composers with Russian roots.

The first Russian on the bill gave us an American musical classic: "West Side Story." Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) was born of Ukrainian immigrant parents and grew up to lead the New York Philharmonic. The Chorale will be performing his "Chichester Psalms." These psalms are full of joyful noise: the first movement sounds like a dance, the second is a sweet lullaby on the 23rd Psalm and the third is a lyrical prayer.

You may not think of Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) as a So Cal fellow, but he was. The Russian-born composer lived in Hollywood longer than any place else in the world. The Chorale will be performing a work with a decidedly American connection: his "Symphony of Psalms" was a commission from the Boston Symphony for its 50th anniversary. In these stirring movements, Stravinsky puts human voices on equal footing with the orchestra to sing the oh-so-very-human sentiments expressed in these laments and celebrations.

Estonian Arvo Pärt (b. 1935) is easy to listen to, even the first time. The "Te Deum" is one of the earliest Christian hymns and in this composer's hands, it is given new and elegant meaning in Pärt's minimalist interpretation. His mood-setting style has won him a few assignments as a movie composer here in the States.

The Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons is located at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Valencia, CA 91355. For tickets visit or call (661) 362-5304.


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