About Pioneer Valley Cappella

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Pioneer Valley Cappella (PVC) is a Northampton-based auditioned ensemble that has been performing unaccompanied choral music for over thirty years. We explore a fascinating range of repertoire; from early Renaissance to contemporary, the Americas to Eastern Europe.

Our conductor, Geoffrey Hudson, is an internationally-respected composer who brings his understanding and love of music both to rehearsals and to programs. For more about Geoff, visit www.hybridvigormusic.org.

Our spring 2024 concert features Niccolò Jommelli's Requiem in Eb (1756), one of the most popular and influential choral compositions of its time. David Threasher of Gramophone writes "It's a fascinating work, perhaps inevitably straddling the twilight of the Baroque period and the dawning of the Classical, its scoring for strings and organ situating its sound world closer to the austere purity of Pergolesi than to the operatic pictorialism of Mozart...."

We will perform on Friday May 3 in Northampton, and Saturday, May 4 in South Hadley. For details, visit our Current Concert page.

We rehearse Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:30 PM at the Northampton Community Music Center, 139 South St, Northampton. We will audition experienced singers in the autumn of 2024.

Niccolò Jommelli's Requiem in Eb (1756)

Friday, May 3, 2024 @ 7:30 PM
Edwards Church, 297 Main St, Northampton

Saturday, May 4, 2024 @ 7:30 PM
All Saints' Episcopal Church, 7 Woodbridge St, South Hadley

Our spring concert features the serene and glowing Requiem of Niccolo Jommelli, performed with string ensemble. Born and educated in Naples, Jommelli composed for opera houses across Italy and spent his later years as a court composer in Vienna and Stuttgart. He was an important transitional figure between the Baroque and Classical styles and exerted significant influence on later composers, including Stamitz and Mozart.

Jommelli’s Requiem supplies calm (rather than fear or awe) in the face of death. The music is characterized by a luminous intimacy, conveying a profound message of consolation. Jommelli’s style is filled with delicious harmonies and infused with subtle rhythmic energy. His Requiem was the best-known setting of the text until Mozart’s unfinished version. PVC’s concerts afford Valley audiences a rare opportunity to hear this neglected masterpiece.

The program begins with short choruses by Handel and Mozart, which place Jommelli’s music in contrast with typical examples of the Baroque and Classical styles.

Geoffrey Hudson conducts Pioneer Valley Cappella, accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble: Colleen Jennings and Kaila Graef, violins; Charlotte Malin, viola; Karl Knapp, cello; and Gregory Hayes, organ.

"Niccolo Jommelli (1714-1774) was one of the most sought-after opera composers of his time when he was appointed Court Kapellmeister in Stuttgart in 1753. Three years later he composed a requiem in memory of the late Duchess of Wurttemberg, the mother of the patron Duke Karl Eugen. The work was to become the most famous composition written by him post mortem, as is evidenced by the almost one hundred handwritten and printed copies that have been preserved in some seventy libraries throughout Europe, including some in the USA." - PrestoMusic

"It's a fascinating work, perhaps inevitably straddling the twilight of the Baroque period and the dawning of the Classical, its scoring for strings and organ situating its sound world closer to the austere purity of Pergolesi than to the operatic pictorialism of Mozart...." David Threasher, Gramophone

PVC Repertoire: Fall 2011-Spring 2023

Fall 2024: Songs Around The Piano

“Songs Around The Piano” presents charming works by Johannes Brahms, Gioachino Rossini, and Aaron Copland. For this concert, we were accompanied by the lovely and talented pianist Sarah Ehle.

We began with selections from "Old American Songs," settings arranged by the American composer Aaron Copland in 1950 and 1952, based on scores he discovered in the John Hay Library at Brown University. Originally scored for voice and piano, they were reworked for baritone (or mezzo-soprano) and orchestra, and later arranged for chorus by Irving Fine, David L. Brunner, Glenn Koponen, Gregory Rose and Raymond Wilding-White.

We continued with Johannes Brahm's delicious Drei Quartette, Op 64. As Calum MacDonald wrote for Hyperion, "Brahms published the set of Drei Quartette, Op 64 in 1874, though the first of them, An die Heimat, probably dates from about 1862. This song is very elaborately laid out: Brahms draws a remarkable, motet-like range of colour from the four voices in harmony, treating them like a tiny chorus with canonic imitations, occasional solos and little a cappella passages; while to Sternau’s text, a conventional praise of the poet’s (unspecified) homeland, he brings a depth of feeling entirely understandable if—as seems likely—the piece was composed during Brahms’s first winter in Vienna, far away from Hamburg. There follows a setting of Friedrich Schiller’s Der Abend, a late poem full of Classical metaphor which Brahms ingeniously touches into life with a male/female dialogue for Apollo and Thetis and a haunting piano accompaniment mimicking the step of the sun-god’s horses; there is a moment of pure magic as the horses stop (the piano falls silent) and drink cooling draughts from the sea in long female-voice phrases. Op 64 concludes with a translation of a Turkish folk-poem made by G F Daumer, the poet of the Liebeslieder-Walzer, whose copious output of both original verse and translations from many languages Brahms often recurred to when choosing texts for setting. Fragen is a set of questions put to a lover (the tenor) by the other three parts, massed as a vocal trio. It develops into a tightly dovetailed dialogue, carried out with a sensitive mingling of humour and pathos."

Finally, we concluded with Gioachino Rossini's "Tre quartetti da camera," a set of three songs composed in 1827. Rossini, then thirty five, was living in Paris and homesick for Italy. He composed these as he grappled with the recent death of his beloved mother, and was seriously considering retiring from a career as an opera composer that had brought him international fame. Not part of any opera, these surprisingly cheerful and charming pieces express Rossini's love of Venice.

Aaron Copland(1900-1990)Old American Songs (selections)
Johannes Brahms(1833-1897)Drei Quartette, Op 64
Gioachino Rossini(1792-1868)Tre quartetti da camera

Spring 2023: An Old House in Vienna

Marianne von Martines lived in an exceptionally rich musical environment. In a single house in the center of Vienna in the 1750s, Martines and her family shared quarters with Joseph Haydn, who gave Martines harpsichord lessons; with the Italian poet Metastasio, the most famous opera librettist of the day, who decided to oversee her musical education; and with Nicola Porpora, a legendary voice teacher and composer, who schooled her in singing.The major work on the program is the Pioneer Valley premiere of Martines’s Dixit Dominus. In 1773, she was the first woman admitted to the Philharmonic Academy in Bologna and composed her Dixit Dominus to commemorate that occasion. It is a sparkling multi-movement work, featuring four vocal soloists, 5-part chorus, and a chamber orchestra.

Haydn composed three distinct versions of his Seven Last Words of Christ – first for full orchestra, then for string quartet, and finally for chorus and orchestra. This performance marries the choral version with string quartet accompaniment. Metastasio’s texts were set to music more than 800 times by dozens of leading composers. Included in this concert are settings of his texts by Gluck, Mozart and Caldara, along with Porpora’s own Kyrie.

Christophe Willibald Gluck(1714-1787)Two choruses from L'innocenza giustificata
De seconda, ospite Nume
Grazie al ciel
Nicola Porpora(1686-1768)Kyrie
Antonio Caldara(1670-1736)"De qual sangue, o Mortale" from Il Passione di Gesù Cristo
Franz Joseph Haydn(1732-1809)from Die sieben letzten Worte unseres Erlösers am Kreuze
5. Jesus rufet: Ach, mich dürstet!
6. Es ist vollbracht
7. Vater, in deine Hände empfehle ich meinen Geist.
10. Il terremoto: Er ist nicht mehr.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart(1756-1791)Più non si trovano, K.549
Marianne von Martines(1744-1812)Dixit dominus

Fall 2022: Reverberations

Pioneer Valley Cappella, Geoffrey Hudson, conductor, presents an assortment of Renaissance songs together with movements from masses they inspired. We conclude with Hudson's fresh take on 19th and early 20th century American folk songs.
Jacques Arcadelt(1505-1568)Il bianco e dolce cigno
Bonifazio Graziani(1604-1664)Kyrie from Missa “Il bianco e dolce cigno”
Hans Leo Hassler(1564-1612)Dixit Maria
Hans Leo HasslerGloria from Missa “Dixit Maria”
Pierre Cadéac(fl. 1538-1556)Je suis déshéritée
Nicolas Gombert(1495-1560)Credo from Missa “Je suis déshéritée”
Anon. c. 15th centuryL’Homme armé
G.B. de Palestrina(1525-1594)Sanctus from Missa “L’Homme armé”
Jean Lupi(c. 1506-1539)Puisque j’ai perdu
Roland de Lassus(1532-1594)Benedictus from Missa “Puisque j’ai perdu”
Josquin des Prez(c. 1440-1521)Mille regretz
Cristóbal de Morales(c. 1500-1553)Agnus dei from Missa “Mille regretz”
Geoffrey HudsonAn American Handful: 5 Folksongs for Mixed Voices
This Morning, This Evening, So Soon
Rosie Nell
A Hundred Years
Levee Moan
Sunshine Special

Spring 2022: After Silence

Pioneer Valley Cappella returns to singing after a long delay, celebrating life and song through delightful folksongs by Brahms, and glorious works by Mendelssohn and Durante. One performance only, outdoors at the tabernacle at Laurel Park, Florence, MA.
Johannes Brahms(1833-1897)Seven German Folksongs
Die Wollust in den Maien, WoO 34, 11
Erlaube mir, feins Mädchen, WoO posthum 35, 3
Schnitter Tod, WoO 34, 13
In stiller Nacht, WoO 34, 8
Von edler Art, WoO 34, 1
Da unten im Tale, WoO 35, 5
Des Abends, WoO posthum 35, 6
Felix Mendelssohn(1809-1847)Nunc dimittis, Op. 69, 1
Francesco Durante(1684-1755)Magnificat a 4 in B-flat major

Spring 2019 through Fall 2021

Hiatus due to COVID-19

Fall 2019: Gabriel Fauré-Requiem

Our fall 2019 program features Fauré's glorius Requiem in D minor, in a new, lighter orchestration. While some critics assert that Fauré was inspired by the death of his parents, Fauré himself wrote “My ‘Requiem’ was composed for nothing; for fun, if I may be permitted to say so.... Perhaps, instinctively, I sought to break loose from convention. I’ve been accompanying burial services at the organ for so long now! I’ve had it up to here with all that. I wanted to do something else.” The setting is indeed original, reflecting Fauré's ambiguous religious beliefs and discomfort with traditional Christian notions of damnation. The Dies Irae—"Day of Wrath" is reduced to its final verse, the Pie Jesu—"Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest;" and the final movement, In Paradisum—"may angels lead you to paradise"—is taken from the burial mass. (Of the former, his teacher and dear friend Saint-Saëns declared “just as Mozart’s is the only Ave verum corpus, this is the only Pie Jesu.”) Fauré's words from 1921 clarify his intent—“everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest.” As a companion piece, we will perform a haunting and exquisite contemporary a cappella work, "Some Thoughts on Keats And Coleridge," by the American composer Earl Kim.
Gabriel Fauré(1845-1924)Requiem, Op. 48
small orchestra version of 1889
Earl Kim(1920–1998)Some thoughts on Keats and Coleridge (1990)

Spring 2019: Of Love and Loss

“Of Love and Loss” is a concert of choral delights from five centuries. The program includes a selection of Johannes Brahms’ ever-popular Liebeslieder Waltzes. Brahms’ charming and flirtatious music is paired with that of one of his predecessors as the leading light of Vienna’s musical life, Franz Joseph Haydn. Near the end of his creative life, Haydn composed a set of part songs, for voices and piano, which alternate between witty observations of social life and profound meditations on mortality. Pianists Heather Reichgott and Andrew d’Antonio join Pioneer Valley Cappella for the Haydn and Brahms. “Of Love and Loss” also includes five pieces by the renaissance master Josquin des Prez. As with the Haydn, these selections intermingle earthy and ethereal themes. Of special interest is “Nymphes des bois”, the extraordinary lament Josquin wrote after the death of his friend and mentor, Johannes Ockeghem. The program also includes a lament composed by Ockeghem upon the death of his mentor Gilles Binchois. The theme of loss continues with a musical remembrance of Pat McDonagh, who sang with Pioneer Valley Cappella for nearly 40 years. “The World That Is All One Thing” combines the poetry of Sarah Metcalf and the music of Geoffrey Hudson.
Josquin des Prez(c. 1450-1521)Mille regretz
Adieu mes amours
Nymphes des bois
El Grillo
Johannes Ockegehm(c. 1410-1497)Mort, tu as navré de ton dart
Geoffrey Hudson(b. 1967)The World That Is All One Thing
Johann Michael Bach(1648-1694)Unser Leben Währet Siebenzig Jahr
Franz Joseph Haydn(1732-1809)Der Augenblick
Der Greis
Die Harmonie in der Ehe
Johannes Brahms(1833-1897)Liebeslider Wälzer, Op. 52

Fall 2018: The Ways of Zion Do Mourn

Pioneer Valley Cappella presents The Ways of Zion Do Mourn, a rarely heard masterpiece by George Frideric Handel, written in remembrance and reverence for Queen Caroline of England in 1737. At once beautiful and solemn; complex and elegant, the piece is truly unique and not to be missed in performance. Pioneer Valley Cappella and music director Geoffrey Hudson will be joined for the performances by a chamber orchestra of oboes and strings.
G.F. Händel(1685-1759)The Ways of Zion Do Mourn: a Funeral Anthem for Queen Caroline, HWV 264
I. The ways of Zion do mourn
II. She put on righteousness
III. When the ear heard her
IV. How are the mighty fall'n (I)
V. She deliver'd the poor
VI. How are the mighty fall'n (II)
VII. The righteous shall be had
VIII. Their bodies are buried in peace
IX. The people will tell of their wisdom
X. They shall receive a glorious Kingdom
XI. The merciful goodness of the Lord

Spring 2018: The Unending Stream - works by the extended family of J.S. Bach

Pioneer Valley Cappella celebrates its 40th season with “The Unending Stream,” music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his esteemed relatives, artfully curated and directed by Geoffrey Hudson. The Bach family dominated the musical world of eastern Germany for six generations and this selection of music beautifully illustrates why that was. The concert also features work by Peter Schickele, otherwise known as P.D.Q. Bach, “the twenty-first of Bach's twenty children.” With musical guests Grant Moss, keyboard; and Wayne Smith, cello.
Johann Christoph Bach(1642-1703)Der Gerechte ob er gleich zu zeitlich stirbt
JS. Bach, arr. Edwin London(1929-2013)Bach (Again) Come Sweet Death
Johann Michael Bach(1648-1694)Ich weiß, daß mein Erlöser lebt
Johann Ludwig Bach(1677-1731)Ich habe dich ein klein Augenblick
Johann Bach(1604-1673)Unser Leben ist ein Schatten
Peter Schickele(b. 1935)After Spring Sunset
Johann Sebastian Bach(1685-1750)Lobet den Herren

Fall 2017: Home Grown

Pioneer Valley Cappella presents "Home Grown," a program of works with local resonance featuring Randall Thompson's beloved Frostiana and pieces by Karen Tarlow, Geoff Hudson and William Billings.
William Billings(1746-1800)The Beauty of Israel Is Slain (2 Samuel I: 19-27)
Karen TarlowDer Zaar in Oigen (Mani Leib) from Five Yiddish Lyrics
Hope Burns a Flame (Frederick C. Tillis)
Geoffrey HudsonTwo New England Songs: 1. The Dreaming of the Frogs (Henry Thoreau)
Two New England Songs: 2. Let Evening Come (Jane Kenyon)
Randall Thompson(1899-1984)Frostiana 1. The Road Not Taken (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 2. The Pasture (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 3. Come In (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 4. The Telephone (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 5. A Girl’s Garden (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 6. Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening (Robert Frost)
Frostiana 7. Choose Something Like a Star (Robert Frost)

Spring 2017: Russian Harmonies

The Pioneer Valley Cappella presents choral gems by three Russian composers: Alfred Schnittke, César Cui, and Igor Stravinsky. The highlight of the program is Stravinsky’s masterpiece, Symphony of Psalms, commissioned by the Boston Symphony to mark its 50th season in 1930. One of Stravinsky’s most deeply moving and genuinely spiritual pieces, Symphony of Psalms treats voices and instruments as independent equals, neither outweighing the other. The music is built from many small patterns, which Stravinsky combines in layers to create sounds that are, by turns, plaintive, ferocious, and floating. The program opens with Three Sacred Hymns, composed in a single night in 1984 by Alfred Schnittke. The music is rooted in the orthodox choral tradition—its seeming simplicity illuminated with radiant harmonies. A collection of five songs by the 19th century romantic composer (and Professor of Military Engineering) César Cui rounds out the program. Cui’s settings of romantic poetry are lush and tuneful, with distinctively Russian sonorities.
Alfred Schnittke(1835-1918)Three Sacred Hymns (1984)
César Cui(1452-1518)Selected Songs
Igor Stravinsky(1882-1971)Symphony of Psalms

Fall 2016: Clap, Weep, Rage, Sleep

In an emotionally-charged season, Pioneer Valley Cappella presents four contrasting sets of choral masterpieces, each set focused on a single verb: clap, weep, rage, and sleep. Some pieces on the program will be familiar to avid choral listeners. Thomas Tomkins’s heart-rending setting of “When David Heard” and Francis Pilkington’s mellifluous “Rest, Sweet Nymphs” have long been favorites for singers and audiences alike. But much of this music is heard relatively rarely. Highlights include a joyous eight-part setting of the 47th psalm, “O Clap Your Hands”, by the eminent Elizabethan composer Orlando Gibbons, “Plorate Filii Israel” a haunting lament by Giacomo Carissimi, and Heinrich Isaac’s extraordinary “Quis Dabit Capiti Meo Aquam.” The program also features music by Hassler, Schütz, Monteverdi, Mendelssohn, Elgar, Dowland, Lassus, and Billings.
William Billings(1746-1800)Queen Street (O clap your hands)
Hans Leo Hassler(1564-1612)Omnes gentes plaudite
G. M. Casini(1652-1719)Omnes gentes plaudite
Orlande de Lassus(1532-1594)Super flumina Babylonis
Heinrich Isaac(1450-1517)Quis dabit capiti meo aquam
Giacomo Carissimi(1605-1674)Plorate filii Israel
Thomas Tomkins(1572-1656)When David Heard
Heinrich Schütz(1585-1672)Warum toben die Heiden
Claudio Monteverdi(1567-1643)Ardo sì, ma non t'amo
Felix Mendelssohn(1809-1847)Warum toben die Heiden
Francis Pilkington(1570-1638)Rest, sweet nymphs
John Dowland(1562-1626)Come, heavy sleepe
Edward Elgar(1857-1934)The Prince of Sleep
Traditional, arr. HudsonStill, still, still

Spring 2016: Elegant Mechanism - Beauty's Insistent Heartbeat

Pioneer Valley Cappella presents "Elegant Mechanism," a program of beautiful, energetic music by Philip Glass and two Italian composers of the 18th century, Francesco Durante and Tommaso Traetta. All three works feature lyric, soaring melodies with backdrops of pulsating short, repeating notes, which create moods of excitement and desperation. The concert features soloists Alisa Pearson and Alan Schneider and a small instrumental ensemble of Gregory Hayes, Michelle Liechti, Greg Diehl, and Karl Knapp.
Francesco Durante(1684-1755)Vespro Breve
Philip Glass(b. 1937)Three Songs for SATB choir unaccompanied
Tommaso Traetta(1727-1779)Stabat Mater

Fall 2015: The Magnificat Seven - Magnificat Settings Through Seven Centuries

Pioneer Valley Cappella performs choral settings of the Magnificat by seven composers from seven distinct musical eras. Selections – chosen carefully by musical director Geoffrey Hudson – span from 15th century plainchant to hauntingly beautiful harmonies; sunny and radiant 18th century Italian melodies to 19th century romantic fugues from Germany. The contrast and similarities between all seven pieces convey a sense of timelessness and wonder throughout the program. Most is performed a cappella; in two selections, PVC will be joined by a small ensemble of stringed instruments.
Robert Ramsey(1595-1644)My soul doth magnify the Lord
Pierre de la Rue(1452-1518)Magnificat
Felix Mendelssohn(1809-1847)Mein Herz erhebet Gott, den Herrn (Op. 69, No. 3)
Guillaume Dufay(1397-1474)Magnificat Quinti Toni
Arvo Pärt(b. 1935)Magnificat
Marc-Antoine Charpentier(1643-1704)Magnificat (H. 73)
Giacomo Antonio Perti(1661-1756)Magnificat in F

Spring 2015: Opus ultimum

Pioneer Valley Cappella presents "Opus ultimum: Der Schwanengesang for double choir & continuo," the final masterpiece of the 17th century composer Heinrich Schütz. The double chorus work, rarely performed in its entirety, will be accompanied by a small instrumental group, and will be performed Friday, May 1, 7:30 pm, at Grace Episcopal Church, Amherst; and Sunday, May 3, 3:00 pm, at St. John's Episcopal Church, Northampton. Recognized by contemporaries as the greatest composer of his time, Heinrich Schütz was 80 years old when he embarked on Der Schwanengesang—a monumental setting of Psalm 119. For this final work, Schütz chose an outmoded form: motets for double-choir. The style had been popular in his youth, but by the time of this composition was no longer fashionable. As a result, Schütz’s final composition—on which he toiled for the last six years before his death—was never performed in his lifetime. Soon after his death, the manuscripts mysteriously disappeared, and Der Schwanengesang spent the next three centuries in the realm of vanished masterpieces, until it was reconstructed in the 20th century. Even now, performances of Der Schwanengesang are rare. The music is deeply personal and contemplative—addressed to eternity as much as it is to Schütz’s audience. Pioneer Valley Cappella, directed by Geoffrey Hudson, will be joined by instrumentalists Gregory Hayes, Alice Robbins, Stan Charkey, Jane Hershey, Laurie Rabut, Jay Elfenbein, Meg Pash, and David Nielsen.
Heinrich Schütz(1585-1672)Der Schwanengesang for double choir & continuo

Fall 2014: Consolation - in Memory of Irma Mednicoff

Pioneer Valley Cappella performs choral masterpieces by Mendelssohn, Rossi, Pachelbel, and others. The program is united around the theme of consolation. Music offers an outlet for sweeping emotions, a sanctuary for reflection and remembrance, and a source of consolation. Pioneer Valley Cappella performs ten choral masterpieces which embody and embrace music’s power in times of distress. At the emotional center of the program stand four motets by Felix Mendelssohn, offering a beguiling blend of intricate counterpoint, sweeping melody, and voluptuous choral sound. The first three motets date from Mendelssohn’s early twenties and reveal his creative debt to Bach. The second motet of the group, Ave Maria, is among his most radiantly beautiful creations. The concert closes with a masterpiece from Mendelssohn’s late maturity, an intimate and moving setting of the Nunc Dimitis (“Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace”). Mendelssohn’s romantic language is balanced by three motets from the great Italian Jewish renaissance composer, Salamone Rossi. Even when setting the kaddish, the traditional Jewish prayer for the dead, Rossi’s music is unerringly graceful. The program also includes gems from William Byrd (“I will not leave you comfortless”) and Palestrina (“Sicut cervus”). The concert begins with Johann Pachelbel’s Magnificat in D, a sunny and radiant work from the composer of the ubiquitous canon. Pioneer Valley Cappella will be joined by organist Gregory Hayes, cellist Alice Robbins, and tenor soloist Alan Schneider.
Johann Pachelbel(1653-1706)Magnificat in D
Salamone Rossi(c.1570-1630)Odecha ki anitani (Ps. 118)
Lamnatseach al hagitit (Ps. 8)
Yitgadal (Full Kaddish)
G. P. da Palestrina(c.1525-1594)Sicut cervus (Ps. 118)
William Byrd(c.1540-1623)I will not leave you comfortless (Ps. 118)
Felix Mendelssohn(1809-1847)Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23 #1)
Ave Maria (Op. 23 #2)
Mitten wir im Leben sind (Op. 23 #3)
Herr, nun lässest du deinen Diener in Frieden fahren (Op. 69 #1)

Spring 2014: Poetry and Prophecy

Pioneer Valley Cappella presents “Poetry and Prophecy,” a concert of dramatic and reflective choral music, on Friday, May 2 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Northampton, and on Sunday, May 4, at All Saints Episcopal Church in South Hadley. The “poetry” on the program includes Robert Schumann’s “Romances and Ballads,” highly-charged miniature dramas that set romantic poetry by Goethe, Mörike, and Robert Burns, often to folk music themes. Similarly, Leos Janácek’s “Five Songs” draw on the rich folk traditions of Moravia. In setting to music folk poetry about love and nature, Janacek conveys a mixture of emotions, forever shifting between cheerfulness and wistful melancholy. “Be My Love,” by Karen Tarlow, a longtime member of the faculty at the UMass, is a richly melodic setting of the famous Elizabethan lyric, “Come live with me and be my love,” and draws on texts from Marlow, Shakespeare and Sir Walter Raleigh. For this piece, Pioneer Valley Cappella is joined by clarinetist Hannah Berube and pianist Marianne Lockwood. The “prophecy” is drawn from the book of Isaiah, set by Randall Thompson in his 1936 work “Peaceable Kingdom.” Skillful, singable, and uncommonly beautiful, this composition ranges in mood from the apocalyptic to the elegiac. Finally, “Song for Athene” by the late Sir John Tavener is a static, sober, and emotionally wrenching mediation on grief. Tavener’s setting of passages from Hamlet achieved international acclaim when it was performed at the memorial service for Diana, Princess of Wales.
Robert Schumann(1810-1856)Romanzen und Balladen, Op. 67
John Tavener(1944-2013)Song for Athene
Leoš Janáček(1854-1928)Five Songs
Karen TarlowcontemporaryBe My Love (2009)
Randall Thompson(1899-1984)The Peaceable Kingdom

Fall 2013: Moments in Time - Choral Masterpieces from the Generation Before Bach

In the autumn of 1705, a twenty-year-old Johann Sebastian Bach travelled some 200 miles to “learn one thing and another about his art” from Dieterich Buxtehude. According to his obituary, he walked. His superiors in Arnstadt granted him leave for a month. Bach stayed away for more than four. When he returned, his superiors we cross with him not only for his tardiness, but because the congregation complained the music he brought back was too elaborate for singing.

In our autumn 2013 concert, Pioneer Valley Cappella explores three works of genius from the generation before J.S. Bach. According to Geoff Hudson, "The music is exquisite, expressive, and quirky."

Henry Purcell(1659-1695)Welcome to All the Pleasures, Z. 339
Marc-Antoine Charpentier(1643-1704)De Profundis, H. 189
Dietrich Buxtehude(1637-1707)Herzlich lieb hab ich dich, o Herr, BuxWV 41

Spring 2013: Ein deutsches Requiem
Johannes Brahms(1833-1897)Ein deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
“London” version with piano four hands

Fall 2012: Great Mysteries - 450 Years of Music Celebrating the Numinous
Jacob Gallus (Handl)(1550-1591)O magnum mysterium (c. 1580)
Tomas Luis de Victoria(1548-1611)O magnum mysterium (c. 1572)
Missa O magnum mysterium (c. 1592)
Bohuslav Martinu(1890-1959)Four Songs about Mary (c. 1934)
Josquin des Prez(c.1450-1521)Ave Maria (c. 1502)
Giovanni Gabrieli(c.1554-1612)O magnum mysterium (c. 1600)
trad./arr. HudsonMaria durch ein Dornwald ging (c. 17th century)
John Harbison(1938- )O magnum mysterium (c. 1992)
Johannes Brahms(1833-1897)Marienlieder (c. 1859)

Spring 2012: Of Song & Light
Francesco Durante(1684-1755)Magnificat in Bb
Hugo Distler(1908-1942)Kleine geistliche Abendmusik (Op. 6, #1)
G.F. Händel(1685-1759)O come, let us sing unto the Lord (Chandos #8)

Fall 2011: Sowing Tears, Harvesting Joy
Heinrich Schütz(1585-1672)Die mit Tränen säen werden mit Freuden ernten
Hugo Wolf(1860-1903)Sechs geistliche Lieder (Eichendorff)
Thomas Weelkes(1575-1623)When David heard
Hans Leo Hassler(1562-1612)Verbum caro factum est
William Byrd(1540-1623)Mass for four voices
Geoffrey HudsoncontemporaryA Shaker Set (8 Shaker Tunes)

Contact Us

Pioneer Valley Cappella will hold auditions again on Thursday, January 11, and Thursday, January 18, 2024. Auditioners must be able to learn sophisticated music quickly and to blend.

PVC rehearses on Thursdays from 7:30 pm until 9:30 pm at the Northampton Community Music Center, 139 South St, Northampton. Dues are sliding scale, and no one will be turned away for want of means.

Auditions are friendly. Singers should have a short piece prepared, and be ready for simple exercises to determine voice part.

If you are curious about our upcoming concert or interested in auditioning, you may contact Pioneer Valley Cappella through the following email address and Facebook link:

pioneervalleycappella [at] gmail [dot] com

©2024 Pioneer Valley Cappella