Pacific Chorale Opens Season With VOICES OF LIGHT / THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC A Stunning Evening Of Music And Film

Einhorn's evocative work, written for orchestra, chorus and soloists, provides a haunting backdrop to the restored version of Dreyer's cinematic tour de force.

By: Sep. 29, 2023
Pacific Chorale Opens Season With VOICES OF LIGHT / THE PASSION OF JOAN OF ARC A Stunning Evening Of Music And Film

Pacific Chorale, led by Artistic Director Robert Istad and celebrated for its artistic innovation and compelling performances, launches its 56th season with Voices of Light / The Passion of Joan of Arc, a spectacular evening of music and film, on Saturday, October 7, 2023, 7:30 pm, at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.

The cinematic event features Richard Einhorn's “brilliantly effective” (Washington Post) 1994 oratorio inspired by and performed live to director Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent film masterpiece, The Passion of Joan of Arc. Einhorn's evocative work, written for orchestra, chorus and soloists, provides a haunting backdrop to the restored version of Dreyer's cinematic tour de force, considered by many critics to be among the greatest films ever made. USA Today proclaims it “the most successful melding yet of classic cinema and live music.” Einhorn draws primarily on the writings of medieval women such as Hildegard of Bingen and Christine de Pizan, for his text, and, at points, even includes the words of Joan of Arc herself.

 

The featured soloists include Pacific Chorale members Alexandria Burdick, soprano; Rebecca Hasquet, soprano; Stephanie Shepson, mezzo-soprano; Jane Hyun-Jung Shim, mezzo-soprano; Jason Francisco, tenor; and Fernando Muñoz, bass.

 

The Passion of Joan of Arc was thought to have been lost in a warehouse fire, but a single print of Dreyer's film was discovered in a janitor's closet of a Norwegian mental institution in 1981, which, subsequently, “was digitally restored to pristine condition” (Bright Lights Film Journal). The film, based on the actual 15th century transcripts of St. Joan's trial for heresy, chronicles Joan of Arc's trial in the hours leading up to her execution. Dressed as a boy, she led French troops in a defeat against British occupiers during the Hundred Years' War, but was later captured and tried by French clergy loyal to the British and condemned to death by burning at the stake for her belief that she was spurred to action by religious visions. Pioneering director Carl Theodor Dreyer employed an array of techniques—expressionistic lighting, interconnected sets, painfully intimate close-ups—to immerse viewers in the experience along with Joan. Of Renée Maria Falconetti's legendary portrayal of Joan of Arc, the late renowned film critic Pauline Kael decreed, “It may be the finest performance ever recorded on film.”

 

Pacific Chorale's 2023-24 Season is made possible, in part, by generous support from Platinum Season Sponsor Phillip N. and Mary A. Lyons.

 

The Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts is located at 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

 

For tickets ($28 - $147) and information, visit Click Here or call 714-662-2345.

Richard Einhorn's unique music has been described as "hauntingly beautiful," "sensational," and "overwhelming in its emotional power." He is one of a small handful of composers who not only reaches a large, worldwide audience, but whose music receives widespread critical praise for its integrity, emotional depth, and craft.

Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light, described as an "opera with silent film" has been hailed as "a great masterpiece of contemporary music" and "a work of meticulous genius." The piece has been performed over 250 times, selling out such venues as the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival; Avery Fisher Hall; Kennedy Center (with the National Symphony); Disney Hall in Los Angeles (with the Los Angeles Master Chorale and Grant Gershon); the Esplanade in Singapore; the Barbican (with the London Symphony and Marin Alsop); and the Sydney Opera House in Australia. The Sony Classical release of Voices of Light, featuring the vocal group Anonymous 4, was a Billboard classical bestseller, earning Einhorn the distinction of being one of only a few living composers to have made "the charts." Voices of Light has attracted national media attention including articles in the Wall Street Journal, segments on All Things Considered and Performance Today, and an extended profile on CBS television network's magazine show, CBS Sunday Morning.

Einhorn has written opera, orchestral and chamber music, song cycles, multimedia events, film music, and dance scores. The wildly popular Red Angels for New York City Ballet, with choreography by Ulysses Dove, was featured on Live From Lincoln Center on PBS and is in the New York City Ballet's permanent repertory. The Shooting Gallery, a multimedia collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison, premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival. Einhorn's 90-minute oratorio about Charles Darwin, The Origin (original films by Bill Morrison), was broadcast in its entirety by WCNY-TV in Syracuse, NY, and received its European premiere at Die Glocke in Bremen, Germany. Other notable works include The Spires, The City, The Field, a 9/11 memorial premiered by the Albany Symphony under David Allan Miller; A Carnival of Miracles, commissioned by Anonymous 4 and premiered to a sold-out crowd at New Sounds Live; and My Many Colored Days, an orchestral commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. Recent projects include Bell, an opera-in- progress about Alexander Bell that was performed at Skidmore College in 2023; The Luminous Ground, for chamber orchestra and chorus commissioned by Musica Viva NYC, and Floe, commissioned by Trio 180. Richard Einhorn's extensive film music catalog includes scores for the Academy Award-winning documentary short Educating Peter (HBO); Arthur Penn's thriller Dead of Winter starring Mary Steenburgen (MGM); and Fire-Eater directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, for which Einhorn won the Jussi (Finnish Academy Award) for Best Musical Score.

ROBERT ISTAD, a Grammy Award-winning conductor who “fashions fluent and sumptuous readings” (Voice of OC) with his “phenomenal” artistry (Los Angeles Times), was appointed Pacific Chorale's Artistic Director in 2017. Under his leadership, the chorus continues to expand its reputation for excellence for delivering fresh, thought-provoking interpretations of beloved masterworks, rarely performed gems and newly commissioned pieces. In July 2023, he led Pacific Chorale's first international tour in seven years, conducting performances at leading venues in Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom. His artistic impact can be heard on two recent recordings featuring Pacific Chorale, including the 2022 Grammy Award-winning “Mahler's Eighth Symphony” with the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel on Deutsche Grammophon (2021), for which he prepared the chorus. It won Best Choral Performance and also garnered a Grammy nomination for Best Engineered Album, Classical. Additionally, Istad conducted the Pacific Chorale's recording “All Things Common: The Music of Tarik O'Regan” released on Yarlung Records (2020). He regularly conducts and collaborates with Pacific Symphony, Berkshire Choral International, and Yarlung Records. His extensive credits also include recording for Sony Classical and guest conducting Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Bach Collegium San Diego, Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Bath Philharmonia, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Tesserae Baroque, and Freies Landesorchester Bayern. Istad has prepared choruses for such renowned conductors as Esa-Pekka Salonen, John Williams, John Mauceri, Keith Lockhart, Nicholas McGegan, Vasilly Sinaisky, Sir Andrew Davis, Bramwell Tovey, Carl St.Clair, Eugene Kohn, Giancarlo Guerrero, Marin Alsop, George Fenton, and Robert Moody. An esteemed educator, Istad is Professor of Music and Director of Choral Studies at California State University (CSUF), Fullerton, where he was recognized as CSUF's 2016 Outstanding Professor of the Year. He conducts the University Singers and manages a large graduate conducting program, in addition to teaching courses on conducting and choral literature. Istad, who is on the Executive Board of Directors of Chorus America and serves as Dean of Chorus America's Conducting Academy, is in demand as guest conductor, lecturer, and clinician.
 

The Grammy Award-winning PACIFIC CHORALE, an Orange County “treasure” with a “fresh viewpoint” that “can sing anything you put in front of it with polish, poise and tonal splendor” (Orange County Register), has “risen to national prominence” (Los Angeles Times) since its inception in 1968. Hailed for delivering “thrilling entertainment” (Voice of OC), the resident choir at Segerstrom Center for the Arts is noted for its artistic innovation and commitment to expanding the choral repertoire. It has given world, U.S., and West Coast premieres of more than 40 works, including numerous commissions, by such lauded composers as John Adams, Jake Heggie, James Hopkins, David Lang, Morten Lauridsen, Tarik O'Regan, Karen Thomas, Frank Ticheli, András Gábor Virágh, and Eric Whitacre. In addition to presenting its own concert series each season, Pacific Chorale, led by Artistic Director Robert Istad, enjoys a long-standing partnership with Pacific Symphony, with which the choir made its highly anticipated Carnegie Hall debut in 2018. The chorus also regularly appears with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, with which it won the 2022 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance for its contribution to the live recording of “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, 'Symphony of A Thousand,'” conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, featuring Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Children's Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children's Chorus and Pacific Chorale. The choir has performed with such leading orchestras as the Boston Symphony, National Symphony, Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, San Diego Symphony, and Musica Angelica, among others. In addition to receiving national accolades, Pacific Chorale has garnered tremendous international acclaim. In July 2023, the chorus completed its first international tour in seven years with appearances in Austria, Germany and the United Kingdom in collaboration with Bath Philharmonica, Free State Orchestra of Bavaria, and Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra. Previous tours have taken the choir to 19 countries in Europe, South America, and Asia, including engagements with the London Symphony, Munich Symphony, L'Orchestre Lamoureux and L'Orchestre de St-Louis-en-l'Île of Paris, National Orchestra of Belgium, China National Symphony, Hong Kong Sinfonietta, Estonian National Symphony, and Orquesta Sinfonica Nacional of Argentina, among others. Deeply committed to making choral music accessible to everyone, the organization has a discography of 14 self-produced recordings and an extensive collection of free digital offerings. Among other artistic highlights, Pacific Chorale's “The Wayfaring Project,” an original concert film conceived and conducted by Istad and produced during the pandemic, will be streamed through December 1, 2024 on pbssocal.org, kcet.org and the PBS app, reaching audiences around the globe. Pacific Chorale also places significant emphasis on choral music education, providing after-school vocal programs for elementary school students, a choral summer camp for high school students, and an annual community-wide singing event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.


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