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The Verdi Chorus Announces Fall 2022 Concert A VERDI PUCCINI FEST

Performances are on November 12 and 13. 

The Verdi Chorus Announces Fall 2022 Concert A VERDI PUCCINI FEST

The Verdi Chorus' 39th season culminates with A Verdi Puccini Fest, for two performances only at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica on November 12 and 13. Led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the Verdi Chorus is the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus. This program, which Ketchum says includes "some of the most exciting moments from two of the greatest operatic composers who ever lived," will feature selections from four Verdi operas - I Lombardi, Don Carlo, Rigoletto, and La traviata, and sequences from Puccini's Turandot, La bohème, Suor Angelica, Tosca, La fanciulla del West, and La rondine.

The program will also feature three guest soloists: critically acclaimed Los Angeles favorite, Jamie Chamberlin Granner, praised for her "shimmering tones" and "star-struck vulnerability" by Opera News; her equally acclaimed husband, tenor Nathan Granner, one of the original The American Tenors (Sony Classical), and known for his "vibrant and flexible" voice (The Boston Globe); and renowned baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand and who made his New York debut at BAM in Matthew Aucoin's opera Crossing.

These performances are made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Sahm Family Foundation, The Green Foundation, and Colburn Foundation, and by grant funding from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture.

Conductor Anne Marie Ketchum says, "Both Verdi and Puccini were masters of writing operatic music that was extremely theatrical. Verdi is known for melody, and Puccini is known for dramatically writing for the orchestra with his striking use of colors and rhythm in a rich theatrical style. They are truly deserving of being referred to as two of the greatest opera composers that ever lived. In terms of the opera chorus, Verdi wrote for the chorus as an actual character and force in what the leading characters were saying and doing, and Puccini wrote musical tones and hues for the chorus to illustrate more deeply the story being told."

Ketchum continues, "The program I've created for this concert is a smorgasbord of the many operas from these two prolific composers, and it has been such great fun to choose from the many dramatic works they both offer. In the case of Puccini, it's a musical and spiritual trip around the world. While all his operas bear his distinctive sound, the Asian influences of Turandot, the Western sounds of La Fanciulla del West, the Parisian ambiance of La rondine, and the deep religiosity of Suor Angelica cannot be missed. The lineup of our three exceptional guest soloists is equally special. The last time Ben Lowe, Nathan Granner and Jamie Chamberlin Granner sang with us together, the Sunday matinee culminated with Nathan proposing marriage to Jamie onstage to the delight and surprise of our audience...and to Jamie, who not only instantly accepted, but did so with several high C's! To have all three of them back for this concert five years later is a dream come true."

The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 50 singers gather from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes singers from 18 to 80 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They in turn are joined by up-and-coming opera singers at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

Raising their voices together they become everything from the lively entourage of Verdi's renowned courtesan Violetta Valéry to the romanticized revelers of a bar set in Puccini's 19th century French Riviera.

Further demonstrating the organization's mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, sixteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Known as the Fox Singers, named in memory of long-time Chorus and Board member Walter Fox, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. The Fox Singers also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for The Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.

The Chorus is also proud to continue with the Sahm Foundation Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies. Sahm Foundation Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions.

Apprentices for this session, named in honor of a generous grant from the Sahm Family Foundation, are sopranos Lily Berthold, Ashlee Slavensky and Jessica Kyles, and tenors Erick Hernandez-Picazo and Berkley Kielhack.

Performance times are Saturday, November 12 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, November 13 at 4:00 pm at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica, located at 1220 2nd Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Tickets are now available for purchase at www.verdichorus.org.

Music Director and Founding Artistic Director ANNE MARIE KETCHUM has been the conductor of the Verdi Chorus since its beginning in 1983. Well recognized as a singer, conductor, stage director and educator, she taught on the voice faculty of Pasadena City College for 34 years until her recent retirement. During her tenure at Pasadena, she directed a full opera each spring to critical acclaim. As a singer, she has appeared internationally and is well known for her performances of contemporary art music, vocal chamber music, solo recitals, and opera. Her recordings of Morten Lauridsen's Cuatro Canciones and of Aurelio De La Vega's Recordatio were both honored with Grammy nominations. She has premiered numerous works by such composers as Ernst Krenek, Aurelio De La Vega, Schulamit Ran, and Hans Werner Henze. Among Ms. Ketchum's creative activities is This and My Heart: A Portrait of Emily Dickinson in Text and Song - a concert/theater piece which she co-wrote and performs with actress Linda Kelsey and pianist Victoria Kirsch. This was first presented as part of Grand Performances in Los Angeles and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Cultural Affairs Department of Los Angeles. She has also served on the faculty of OperaWorks, Angels Vocal Art and at California State University, Northridge. Ms. Ketchum and the Chorus have received commendations on several occasions from the county of Los Angeles and from the city of Santa Monica.

Accompanist LARAINE ANN MADDEN has garnered acclaim as one of the most sensitive and experienced collaborating artists in the Los Angeles area. Trained in the Bay Area, she made her solo debut with the Oakland Symphony at age 13 performing Mozart's Piano Concerto in A Major, K. 488. Ms. Madden studied Accompanying at the University of Southern California with its pioneer teacher, Gwendolyn Koldofsky and has accompanied in the master classes of Martin Katz, Geoffrey Parsons, Giorgio Tozzi, Martial Singher, Joan Dornemann, and Peter Pears. She has served as "repetiteur" accompanist under conductors Simon Rattle, Christoph Perrick and Richard Buckley, and has appeared in concert with singers associated with New York City Opera, the Metropolitan Opera, and Los Angeles Opera including Alan Titus, Rod Gilfry, Erie Mills, Young Mi Kim, and Ealynn Voss. Recent engagements include performing on the Jacaranda Concert Series and with the Fox Singers at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica, the Huntington Library in Pasadena, and the Richard Nixon Library for the Marshall B. Ketchum University Shared Visions Gala. This is her twenty-second year as collaborator with the Verdi Chorus.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.verdichorus.org. Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.

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