Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra opens season with new choir
By Bob Karlovits
Published: Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Daniel Meyer and Marc Tourre can see the payoff in putting together a new ensemble.
“Adding a new choir could open the door to a whole new audience,” Meyer, artistic director of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra, says of the new Westmoreland Symphony Chamber Singers.
The singers, assembled by him and Tourre, an adjunct instructor at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, will premiere at the opening-night concert of the orchestra Nov. 2 at the Palace Theatre, Greensburg.
“It is a really nice idea to have an adult choir,” Tourre says. “We can do some challenging programming.”
The first of those challenges will be in that concert as the choir and orchestra do Johann Sebastian Bach's “Magnificat,” the work that led to the ensemble.
“I really have to give Daniel a lot of credit for wanting to do the ‘Magnificat,' ” Tourre says. “It is a challenge, but doable.”
Meyer says he had a desire to do that work, but knew he needed some sort of musically adept choir to do it. He turned to Tourre for some vocal advice. They work together annually in the “Home for the Holidays” concert in December.
Tourre, a retired choir director and teacher from Greater Latrobe High School, puts together an all-star high-school chorus for those events, and agreed a mature ensemble was needed for “Magnificat.”
They also shared the enthusiasm about having a choir around for other performances.
Also a baritone soloist, Tourre called fellow singers and teachers to find interested performers. He has put together a group of 39 singers, who all seem excited at the idea.
“Some of the teachers really like the idea of getting a chance to perform,” he says.
Meyer says the adult group will give the orchestra the chance to do an even-wider range of programming, as well.
Besides the Bach work, the season's first concert will feature George Frideric Handel's “Music for the Royal Fireworks” and Maurice Ravel's “Le Tombeau de Couperin.”
The Handel piece is from the same general period as the Bach work, but is “bold and brassy,” making it a good work with which to open the concert, Meyer says.
“Le Tombeau de Couperin” was written by the 20th century's Ravel, but it makes reference to Francois Couperin (1668-1733), the French composer and organist.
“There is a little sensitivity that is a nod to the baroque,” Meyer says.
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