Musical flavors galore at Chamber Music Hamilton concert

Variety is the spice of life.

And concert programs too.

Much like the one Michael Schulte, Artistic Director of Chamber Music Hamilton, has assembled for Sunday, July 10 at 2 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King St. W.

One of the diverse musical flavors of this concert is “To the Earth,” a 16-minute song cycle for baritone and string quartet by Dundas composer Abby Richardson-Schulte, better half of Michael Schulte.

The piece was commissioned by Annette-Barbara Vogel’s string ensemble Magisterra Soloists based in London, Ontario, especially for Russell Braun. Braun is an internationally acclaimed operatic baritone who resides in Glen Williams near Georgetown. Delayed by the pandemic closures, the work was finally premiered last October in London by the Braun and Vogel’s ensemble.

At the CMH concert, Braun will be accompanied by the Schulte Chamber Players, here an ad hoc quartet composed of Schulte and Vogel on violin, Shannon Knights of the Venuti Quartet on viola and Amber Ghent of the Madawaska Quartet on cello.

For the commission, Vogel asked Richardson-Schulte to set to music texts from “Lyrisches Intermezzo” (Lyrisches Intermezzo) by Heinrich Heine, from which Schumann had moreover drawn inspiration for his 1840 song cycle, “Dichterliebe”. (The love of a poet). Richardson-Schulte chose five poems, “Am leuchtenden Sommermorgen”, “Ein Fichtenbaum steht einsam” (A spruce tree is alone), “Aus alten Märchen”, “Ich hab’ im Traum geweinet” (I cried in my dream) and “I am wunderschönen Monat Mai.” She kept the second and fourth of these poems in their original German as a tip of the hat to Vogel and Braun who are both German, and asked her husband, also German, to translate the others into English as ” A Sunny Summer Morning”. “, “The Olden Tales Tell Us” and “It was the beautiful month of May”.

“Although most of the poems in Heine’s ‘Lyrisches Intermezzo’ collection focus on the theme of love, a number of them use nature as a character,” Richardson-Schulte explained. “Even though they were written around 200 years ago, I couldn’t help but relate to climate change through my own contemporary perspective. Here they are reframed both as a tribute to the land and as an acknowledgment of the damage we have done to the land.

Other musical flavors of the first half of the concert include Respighi’s “Il Tramonto”, a setting of Shelley’s poem “The Sunset” in Italian for baritone and string quartet, and the first movement of Smetana’s first string quartet , “From My Life”.

After the intermission there is Vaughan Williams’ song cycle ‘On Wenlock Edge’ for baritone, piano and string quartet, the second movement of Dohnanyi’s string trio ‘Serenade’, as well as Braun and his better half, collaborating pianist Carolyn Maule, in Mendelssohn’s “Neue Liebe” (New Love), Schumann’s “Waldesgespräch” (Forest Dialogue) and Loewe’s “Die wandelnde Glocke” (The Walking Bell). The afternoon ends with Schulte’s arrangement for baritone and string quartet of Schubert’s “Erlkönig” (Erlking).

Tickets to $35, student $15.

After a six-month international recruitment process with applications from across North America, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and the Philippines, the Hamilton Children’s Choir has chosen someone close to home as their new Artistic Director. .

Melanie Tellez, a member of HCC’s artistic team since 2010 and Associate Artistic Director since 2015, has been named HCC’s Artistic Director effective July 1, succeeding Zimfira Poloz who now directs the Toronto Children’s Chorus.

“I am thrilled and grateful to lead this new chapter in HCC’s history,” Tellez said in a press release. “I believe the future of HCC’s success lies in reaching and supporting young singers of all kinds within our community. To me, that means our programming can offer achievement and artistry as well as intentional pathways to connection, uplifting new and underserved voices. I believe Hamilton offers a multitude of organizations, collectives and populations in our city that remain unexplored for artistic and cultural collaboration. I am thrilled to lead an HCC that invites young people to grow together, while celebrating being themselves.

On Monday, July 11 at 7:30 p.m. at The Pearl Company, 16 Steven St., Vancouver-born, Madrid-based, award-winning flamenco flautist Lara Wong and her eponymous trio of flamenco guitarist Melón Jiménez and percussionist Ivan Mellén perform in support of her CD, “Rosa de los Vientos”. Tickets to $20.