Could a better anniversary party be planned?
For the Fairfield County Chorale, probably not. The group is kicking off its 50th anniversary celebration with a gigantic production of the rousing “Carmina Burana” — with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.
Arguably the most popular orchestral-choral piece ever written, “Carmina Burana” will be performed Thursday, Nov. 29, in New Haven, and Saturday, Dec. 1, in Norwalk.
Executive Director John Parkinson said the concert marks an extraordinary time for the 100 singers of the FCC; not only are they celebrating a landmark anniversary, they will be doing so under a new music director, David Rosenmeyer, who has been preparing the ensemble for several weeks for the upcoming concerts.
“We have traveled much of the world of music and learned so much about ourselves and the art that we practice and enjoy so much,” Parkinson wrote in an email interview.
“We are so grateful for the interest of the community we serve and appreciate the many benefactors who have given us their generous support through the years.
“Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the chorale has been its ability to always look to the future, to seek out and grasp new and exciting opportunities and grow from each one.
“As we begin the first of our next 50 years with our new music director … we are very excited.”
“Carmina Burana,” a 1930s cantata by Carl Orff, is based on 24 bawdy and beautiful 11th-, 12th- and 13th-century poems that were written by clerics and students. With its familiar “O Fortuna” — used in countless TV commercials and films — the work is a favorite with choral groups around the world.
Soloists for both concerts are Connecticut soprano Amanda Hall, tenor Joshua Kohl and bass Kenneth Overton.
Hall has been featured with Opera Theatre of Connecticut in the title role of Lucia di Lammermoor, with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra as soloist in “Carmina Burana,” with the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra in Vaughan Williams’ A “Sea” Symphony, and as soloist in Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in New Haven. She recently returned to the roster of the New York City Opera.
Kohl’s area performances have included engagements with the New Haven Symphony, Hartford Symphony, Yale Camerata, Yale Symphony Orchestra and the Connecticut Master Chorale.
Overton debuted with the Norwalk Symphony during the 2008-2009 season, featured in Handel’s “Messiah.” He returned to the Connecticut Opera as Marcello in “La Boheme” and Taddeo in “L’Italiana in Algeri.” Other credits include performances with Opera Theatre Pittsburgh and the San Antonio Symphony.
Parkinson said “the Fairfield County Children’s Choir will be performing with us at both concerts and the Western Connecticut State University Choir will be joining us for the Woolsey Hall Concert.”
The Norwalk concert will include a piece, “Dies Irae,” that was written by then-13-year-old Gabe Smallwood, of Florence, S.C., as part of the 2011 Carnegie Carmina Burana Choral Project. (The teenager is scheduled to attend the Norwalk concert and will participate in a pre-concert talk with Rosenmeyer.)
Following an 18-month search, the FCC chose Rosenmeyer earlier this year from a pool of 70 candidates. A conductor, vocal coach, pianist and accompanist, Rosenmeyer was born in Argentina, raised for several years in Israel and is now a New Yorker.
He succeeds the group’s legendary maestro, the Swiss-born Johannes Somary, who collapsed at his New York home on Dec. 27, 2010, after suffering a massive stroke. Somary died Feb. 1, 2011, at age 75.