Ken Guilmartin, famous among families around the world as the founder of the Music Together® early childhood music curriculum, will celebrate 50 years of composing with unique benefit concerts to support VOICES, a local nonprofit chorus.
Tickets are available at www.voiceschorale.org for both concert dates: Thursday, November 10, 7:30 PM, and Sunday, November 13, 3:00 PM, at Music Together in Hopewell, NJ.
Guilmartin’s scores include numerous music theatre, opera, and choral works, as well as jazz, blues, and electronic music. In music education, he has composed, arranged, and produced more than 250 songs and instrumentals for Music Together, which is now taught in over 3,000 communities in 41 countries around the world. Among Guilmartin’s numerous off-Broadway and regional theatre credits is his score for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which toured for the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and was produced by John Houseman’s The Acting Company. An excerpt of this work will be performed at the concerts on November 10 and 13.
“The concert program will focus on my work off-Broadway and in regional theatre and opera, plus more recent choral works that reflect my theatrical sensibility, with the influence of my rock ‘n’ roll and jazz roots heard throughout,” said Guilmartin. “It’s been exciting preparing and reencountering these pieces that I loved so much creating, and I am amazed at how the poems and themes still speak to what’s in the news today. And we have a truly outstanding group of soloists whose voices will ring true to both the content and contemporary audiences.”
In addition to the song from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the program will include concert versions of excerpts from Guilmartin’s jazz-inflected, theatrical oratorio, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, based on the work of William Blake, and Guilmartin’s opera, The City of Gypsies, with a libretto of poetry by Federico García Lorca in English translation, arranged by the composer. Excerpts from a work-in-progress, The Music Comes Through, inspired by Guilmartin’s encounters with ancient Celtic and contemporary Irish music and culture, will also be included.
Concert beneficiary, VOICES Chorale, will perform, alongside professional musicians and instrumentalists, including principal soloists Mary Ellen Assue, Gerry Dignan, Micah Isley, Robert Kramer, Jennifer Brader Moskal, and William Walker.
VOICES supports the development of new choral works in several ways, including its inclusion of a composer on its Board of Trustees, performing recently composed works, and commissioning of new works. Over the years, Guilmartin has become VOICES’ unofficial composer-in-residence and has premiered several new works with the Chorale.
According to VOICES Founder/Music Director Dr. Lyn Ransom, “VOICES has been performing works by Guilmartin since 2001 and always finds the experience rewarding. Ken’s rhythms are alive, energizing even lyrical pieces (and sometimes challenging us!); his melodies hauntingly beautiful at times, at other times dramatic and stark. The drama, melody, and rhythm totally work together to draw singers and audiences in. We are honored to help Ken celebrate his first fifty years of composing this November!”
Advance tickets are $25 ($30 at door) for Thursday evening’s concert and $50 ($60 at door) for Sunday afternoon’s concert and reception. They may be purchased at www.voiceschorale.org.