“Father, don’t be so severe! If I can’t drink my bowl of coffee three times daily, then in my torment I will shrivel up like a piece of roast goat.”
No, this is not a plea from a sleepy northwest coffee drinker It is a line in the J.S. Bach “Coffee Cantata” from which the Orcas Choral Society will sing highlights during the 2008 spring concerts taking place at the Orcas Center on Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. both nights.
Bach wrote the music for this work and Christian Friedrich Henrici wrote the libretto between 1732 and 1734 as a satirical commentary on the coffee craze that was sweeping Leipzig, Germany in the eighteenth century. Singing in German, Sharon Abreu, soprano and Eric Gourley, bass will perform the solos between a father and daughter as they musically debate the merits and downfalls of coffee. Jim Shaffer-Bauck is the narrator. Instrumentalists Linda Slone, flute; Scott Heisinger, violin; Dale Heisinger, cello and, Marianne Lewis, harpsichord will join the Choral Society in the performance of this work.
An Orcas Choral Society spring performance would not be complete without paying musical homage to the beauties of nature and rural living. Last year, in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Orcas Choral Society, Canadian composer Stephen Chatman was selected to put music to a text written by northwest poet Theodore Roethke entitled “The Rose.”
“The Rose” brings alive our love of place, “the place of my desire” with the music and words reflecting the movement of the elements surrounding and enfolding the single rooted rose, reminding us of ourselves as we stand strong in the midst of all that nature brings to us. Caroline Scott will be the soprano soloist. Another musical image comes from a simple farm scene is lyrically depicted in “The Pasture” by Robert Frost with music by Z. Randall Stroope.
The Orcas Choral Society, under the direction of Catherine Pederson with pianist Patty Johnson, has long been committed to singing songs from many cultures and many perspectives. “Song for Peace” written by Cape Breton Island composer Allister MacGillivray uses the imagery of people and the sea to encourage compassion and cooperation. “Gate Gate” by Brian Tate (another Canadian composer) combines English and Sanskrit in a joyous setting of a Buddhist mantra. “Alleluia” from the Brazilian Psalm” by Jean Berger evokes a different kind of exuberance as we picture a lively musical processional through village streets. A Mennonite hymn, “Going Down the Valley” celebrates the coming of the light as spring approaches and winter ends. Soloists include Dean Stupke, Wally Logan and Stan Miller.
The comforts of coffee will be explored in other songs on the program including “Java Jive”, directed by Eric Gourley. Written by Milton Drake and Ben Oakland this piece was made famous by the Manhattan Transfer and is filled with odd little solo moments. Patty Johnson will direct a small group in ‘Jus Gimme Some Joe!”
A variety of musical styles and themes round out the other songs on the program. The concerts are presented in partnership with the Orcas Center. Tickets for the concerts can be bought from the Orcas Center box office during regular box office hours or online at www.orcascenter.org. Adults are $10, students and children $3. Ticket information can be found at 376-2281.