The Verdi Chorus Concludes 40th Anniversary Season With STAR-CROSSED! in April

Performance times are Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 28 at 4:00 pm.

By: Feb. 28, 2024
The Verdi Chorus Concludes 40th Anniversary Season With STAR-CROSSED! in April
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The Verdi Chorus’ 40th Anniversary season will conclude with its Spring 2024 Concert STAR-CROSSED! for two performances only at the First Presbyterian Church in Santa Monica on April 27 and 28, 2024.  Led by Anne Marie Ketchum, who is celebrating forty consecutive years as Artistic Director of the organization, the Verdi Chorus is the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus. The program will feature selections from two Mozart operas – Idomeneo and Don Giovanni, Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, and Lehar’s The Merry Widow.

The program will also feature three guest soloists: soprano Jamie Chamberlin Granner; acclaimed tenor Nathan Granner, whose profound depiction of Korey Wise in the Pulitzer Prize-winning opera The Central Park Five (Portland Opera & Long Beach Opera) attest to his commitment to bringing intricate characters to life with emotional authenticity; and Chinese-American bass Colin Ramsey.

These performances are made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Sahm Family Foundation, the Colburn Foundation, by grant funding from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, the Creative Recovery LA Initiative through the Federal American Rescue Plan Act, and the City of Santa Monica through the Santa Monica Arts Commission.

Conductor Anne Marie Ketchum says, “As part of the Verdi Chorus’ celebratory 40th Anniversary season, I wanted to bring back Jamie Chamberlin Granner and Nathan Granner, as they are both wonderful guest soloists who have sung with us many times before, and are also having great careers of their own. Jamie and Nathan are also very close to us in a personal way, given that they got engaged on the stage of our 2017 Fall Concert, in which they were both featured. There is a duet in the first act of Lucia di Lammermoor in which the two star-crossed lovers pledge their commitment to each other, and in their own minds become married, and Nathan used that very duet to propose to Jamie onstage at the conclusion of the Sunday matinee! In fact, I’ve added Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette to this program because of the two of them. I’m also so excited to welcome guest soloist Colin Ramsey to this concert. Nathan has worked with Colin before, and after being introduced to him through Jamie, I was absolutely blown away by his incredible voice.”

Ketchum continues, “STAR-CROSSED! Is such a wonderfully apt title for this program. In addition to the famously star-crossed lovers of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor and Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, Mozart’s Idomeneo is faced with the star-crossed love of his very own people.  After Neptune saves the life of Idomeneo at sea, Idomeneo promises to offer as a sacrifice to Neptune the life of the first person he sees when he lands on shore. In a truly star-crossed twist of fate, this person ends up being Idomeneo’s very own son! Now Idomeneo is forced to choose between the tremendous love he has for his son and the love he has for his own people. This will be a program full of rich drama, and what better way to end it than with the melodious sounds of Lehar’s The Merry Widow for desset?”    

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 20 to 87 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.

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 soprano Esther Foulke, mezzo-soprano Emma Ginzel, and tenors Kirk Garner and George Froehlig.  
Performance times are Saturday, April 27 at 7:30 pm, and Sunday, April 28 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 Priority seating is available for $50, general admission is $40, seniors are $30, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.