Tomorrow, the Yale Choral Artists will perform a program that "is intended to showcase Brahms' mastery of the choral idiom and the incredible emotional range of his choral output," the group's founding director, Jeffrey Douma, said, "from the intricate counterpoint of the two a cappella motets Schaffe in mir, Gott and Warum ist das Licht gegeben, to the moving elegy Nänie, a work originally for chorus and full orchestra but performed this weekend in a piano four-hands reduction (a practice common in the era before recorded music)."
"We finish the program," Douma said, "with the Liebeslieder, one of Brahms' most popular works during his lifetime, adding a unique dimension by alternating between solo quartets and tutti choir from movement to movement, highlighting the individual character of each of the 18 exquisite miniatures that comprise the set."
Douma founded the Yale Choral Artists, a professional project-based group, nearly a decade ago. "In recent years in the United States, the emergence of the professional project choir has added an exciting and rich new dimension to the choral landscape," he said, "and I think it has been important to have that model as part of the range of ensemble singing at Yale."
Many of the Choral Artists are products of Yale. "Just over half of YCA's singers for this project are YSM alums from both the voice program and choral conducting program," Douma, a professor of choral conducting at the Yale School of Music, said. "We also have two Yale College alums in the group this time."
In addition to solo careers, members of the Choral Artists perform with such ensembles as Chanticleer, Conspirare, the Handel and Haydn Society Chorus, Seraphic Fire, the Trinity Wall Street Choir, and Voices of Ascension, among others. The vocalists' successes are in large measure a reflection of the potential they brought to and realized during their time at Yale. "We are fortunate to have some of the best young musicians in the world studying here," Douma said. "Like all of my colleagues, I am so proud to be able to send them out into the world and am thrilled when we are able to invite them back to compose and perform both for the YSM community and for our broader audiences."
Founding Director Jeffrey Douma will lead the Yale Choral Artists and faculty pianists Robert Blocker and Melvin Chen in an all-Brahms program on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m., in Morse Recital Hall. The concert is free and open to the public.