Community Chorus to give Thanksgiving concerts this weekend

The Middlebury College Community Chorus takes to the Robison Concert Hall stage at Middlebury’s Mahaney Center for the Arts for its annual Thanksgiving concert, this year with the theme “Heart and Home.” Performances take place on Saturday evening, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., and on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 19, 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Conductor Jeff Rehbach notes that through a rich variety of historic and present-day music abounding with vivid writing for chorus and piano, the program evokes our longing for home, our heartfelt desire for peace and hope, as well as our joy in celebration and thanksgiving. Rehbach leads the 100-voice chorus as virtuoso pianist Timothy Guiles accompanies the ensemble.

The group delights in presenting music by Moira Smiley, who grew up in New Haven, and now travels across the globe to share her music and songs. “Stand in That River” encourages listeners to: “Come and stand in that river, current gentle and slow, send your troubles down-water, down on that water flow.”

The chorus reflects on life at home with “These Green Hills,” Vermont’s state song, in a new arrangement written this past spring by Maarten van Ryckevorsel. “The Road Home,” by Minnesota composer Stephen Paulus, uses a tune from The Southern Harmony Songbook (1835) with new words: “There is no such beauty as where you belong; rise up, follow me, I will lead you home.”

The choir remembers those who have been a part of our lives with two works by contemporary American composers, “Good Night, Dear Heart” by Dan Forrest and “Homage” by Z. Randall Stroope. The first poignantly sets the words of a classic poem by Robert Richardson that Mark Twain notably placed on the headstone of his daughter who died in her early twenties. The second honors beloved parents and all who shape our lives.

Music wells up in our hearts with the passionate yet sensitive “I Dream a World” by Langston Hughes, set by African-American composer Rosephanye Powell. Norwegian-American composer Ola Gjeilo uses the ancient church text “Ubi caritas” (“Where charity and love are, God is there”) in a breath-taking piece that features solo piano alongside the chorus. And Rosephanye Powell sets her newly composed song, “I Will Sing,” in a toe-tapping gospel style.

The program includes many other pieces from the 18th and 19th centuries including works by Johannes Brahms, Gabriel Fauré, Johann Sebastian Bach and Felix Mendelssohn.

The College Community chorus is open without audition to all singers who delight in participating in this 150-year-old community tradition, hosted by Middlebury College. For additional information, visit go.middlebury.edu/communitychorus or contact director Jeff Rehbach at (802) 989-7355.


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