Quoddy Voices will present its spring concerts on Friday, May 31 at 7 pm, and Sunday, June 2 at 3 pm, at the Eastport Arts Center. The program, Around the World In 80 Minutes, is a rhythmic and joyful exploration of the great diversity of musical traditions in our world. The featured work is one recently composed for Quoddy Voices by Chinese composer Yujing Bai.
The rhythmic energy of African music is highlighted in two works drawing upon Zulu tunes, “Babethandaza,” and “Siyahamba,” which became one of the theme songs of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. The traditions of Europe are represented by three works: the classic “Song of the Volga Boatmen” (sung by the group’s basses and tenors), “Tambur,” an old Hungarian dancing song, and the haunting Irish folk song “She Moved Through the Fair.” “Hope There Is,” by Australian composer Clare Maclean, uses a text by Oodgeroo Nunnuccal, the first the Aboriginal poet to have her work published in that land. The words are in English, but the repeated overlapping rhythmic figures draw directly from the Aboriginal tradition.
Yujing Bai’s work is titled “Hua Fei Hua” (The Bloom is Not a Bloom); it is a setting of a classic Tang dynasty poem. The chorus is accompanied by a small instrumental ensemble (Nancy Asante, flute; Ross Argir, violin; Brandy Argir, viola; and Alice St. Clair, ‘cello).
A rich choral setting of beautiful Chinese folk melody “Mo-li-hua” (Jasimine Flower) will feature soprano soloist Jennifer Gillies. Baritone Devon Newell will be soloist in “Antarctic Mariner’s Song,” composed in 1843 by James Dwight Dana, the geologist with the United States Exploring Expedition (1838-42).
The sopranos and altos take the stage in a “A Zing-a Za!,” an arrangement of the high-spirited Brazilian folk song. Soprano Manuela Brice is soloist in the lively but moving “Mata del Anima Sola” (Tree of the Lonely Soul), which depicts the solitude and mystery of the llanos, the high plains of Venezuela. An ensemble of nine singers drawn from the chorus will perform the gorgeous “Te Quiero” (I Love You), by the Argentinian composer Alberto Favero.
North America is represented by an arrangement of the lovely French Canadian folk song “J’ai cueilli la belle Rose and Ambe,” a work by Andrew Balfour, based upon an original melody from the Ojibwe First Nation in Canada.
The program concludes with an lively and uplifting work by Jacob Narverud, “Sisi Ni Moja” (Swahili for “we are one”). Playing the djembe drum in this and a couple of other works is our guest percussionist, 12-year-old Kieran Weston, who’ll be familiar to audiences of past Young Persons’ Concert performances.
Quoddy Voices is a constituent group of the Eastport Arts Center, with dedicated members who hail from all over our region to make music together. John Newell directs the ensemble and Kamiwan Luszcz-Santos is the piano accompanist.
Suggested donation for the concert is $12; students age 17 and under will be admitted free. For more information about Quoddy Voices contact Newell at (207) 214-7302 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Eastport Arts Center is at 36 Washington Street, Eastport, and at www.eastportartscenter.org, and is handicapped-accessible.