The Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, with guest artists The Oriana Singers and City Voices, will present the world premiere of British-born composer Peter Meechan’s “Love Songs (Shakespeare)” at a holiday-themed concert titled “Shakespeare Valentines” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 10, 2018, at First United Church of Oak Park, 848 Lake St., Oak Park, Ill.
Commissioned by the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, “Love Songs (Shakespeare)” is a half-hour neo-Romantic work in four movements for brass quintet, organ, narrator, and choir, inspired by four of William Shakespeare’s poems on love.
“The audience will develop a crush on this music,’” says Rodney Holmes, founder and music director of the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble.
Movements are titled “Lost Love,” “Love’s Betrayal,” “Love’s Dream,” and “Love’s Ideal.” Each includes the complete text of a Shakespeare sonnet (a 14-line poem) and reflects on love from a different perspective: despair, lust, infatuation, and fidelity.
“In two of the movements, choristers will sing the sonnets to instrumental accompaniment. In the others, a narrator will read sonnets over a background of instrumental music, similar to what’s heard in Aaron Copeland’s ‘Lincoln Portrait,’” Holmes says.
Stephen Squires will conduct the new work.
Another musical premiere and nod to Old England is a brief suite from English Baroque composer Henry Purcell’s “Come Ye Sons of Art,” arranged by Holmes for choir, brass, and organ.
Brass players will perform David Marlatt’s arrangement of a suite from Purcell’s semi-opera “The Fairy-Queen,” which Purcell adapted from Shakespeare’s play “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; and Craig Garner’s Gargoyle-commissioned arrangement of Gustav Holst’s “Song Without Words, 'I'll Love My Love.'"
Unaccompanied choral music, conducted by William Chin, will include a set of Elizabethan-era works: John Bennet’s “All Creatures Are Merry-Minded,” Michael Cavendish’s “Come Gentle Swains” and Thomas Weelkes’s “As Vesta Was from Latmost Hill Descending.” A set of 20th-century English choral works will include John Ireland’s “The Hills,” Ralph Vaughan Williams’s “Silence and Music,” and Michael Tippett’s “Dance, Clarion Air.”
Tickets and Information
Single tickets for the Chicago Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble’s “Shakespeare Valentines” concert are $20 adult general admission, $15 seniors 55 and older, free for those 17 and younger. Tickets are available at gargoylebrass.com.