Madison Choral Project
When Artistic Director Albert Pinsonneault starts talking about the Madison Choral Projects, it doesn’t take long to hear the enthusiasm and pride he has for this ensemble. As the Madison Choral Project (MCP) heads into it’s sixth season, Pinsonneault has a lot to be excited about.
To understand the significance of this organization, it is important to know how it began. In 2013, Pinsonneault, then on faculty at Edgewood College, was looking to push himself as a choral conductor. “I loved what I was doing but wanted to challenge myself,” explained Pinsonneault in a recent phone interview. “I decided that I wanted to do a concert featuring some area professional musicians in a chamber choir. I knew that I needed money to do that so I went out on a whim and did some on-line fundraising.” While Pinsonneault didn’t expect much of the fundraiser, he was shocked when the campaign did reach its goal. “So I hired 16 singers for this one time event, and we went from there,” Pinsonneault added.
The first concert took place in May 2013, and to Pinsonneault ‘s absolute joy, it was huge success, raising a significant amount of money through a donation box placed by the door. “All of a sudden we had seed money and realized we could do another concert,” Pinsonneault explained. The second concert found the new ensemble collaborating with the Madison Bach Musicians on a Mass in B minor production. Following that concert, Pinsonneault decided it was time to become an official organization. The rest is history.
Fast forward to Fall 2017. The 16 core singers has now expanded to nearly 30 singers and the organization also employs a yearly Composer in Residence (the 2017-2018 composer is lauded Eric William Barnum) As the organization has grown, so has its reputation. Featuring a fully professional ensemble, the singers tackle both new and standard challenging repertoire pieces on each concert.
The MCP will take on two very different choral concert projects this season. First off, the ensemble will take on their 5th annual holiday concert, Old Lessons and New Carols. “We tie music together with readings to take listeners through this Advent season while paying homage to the Winter Solstice and Judaic holiday traditions as well,” explained Pinsonneault. The concert opens with the beautiful and haunting “Warum ist das Licht gegeben?” by Johannes Brahms. The first portion of the concert moves through discussion of mortality into an afterlife, ending with the stunning, ethereal “If I were a swan” by Kevin Puts.
The latter half of the concert will include arrangements of holiday carol settings and audience participation amidst the narrative readings. To leave the audience on a truly spectacular note, the MCP will close with “Wake, Awake” by F.M. Christiansen.
The MCP will follow up a truly exciting December concert with another one of the same high caliber in February. This concert is called Drown’d in one Endless Day and will feature the world premiere of composer Barnum’s piece of the same name. As all MCP concerts do, this event will take on its own shape with the first half featuring the J.S. Bach motet Komm, Jesu, Komm. The second half of the concert will feature Barnum’s piece along with pieces by composers such as C.H.H. Parry, Antonio Lotti, and David Lang.
Preparing for these concerts is small task. As Pinsonneault pointed out, this fully professional choir arrives to the first rehearsal with music learned as well as specifics (breath marks, divisi points, etc.) memorized. Over the course of just seven rehearsals, the music is prepared for performance. “We do maintain high expectations of our musicians but what makes that great is we can focus on musical and stylistic nuances in rehearsals,” Pinsonneault explained. “The rehearsals bring the music to life.”
Tickets are available for both concerts. Old Lessons, New Carols will take place on December 15th at 7:30pm and on Sunday, December 17th at 3:00pm. Both concerts will take place at the ensemble’s new performance space, Christ Presbyterian Church (944 E. Gorham St. Madison, WI 53703.) The performances of Drown’d in one Endless Day will take place on Saturday February 10th at 7:30pm at Christ Presbyterian Church and on Sunday February 11th at 2pm at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (1833 Regent St. Madison) Tickets and further information about these events as well as the MCP are available at themcp.org
These concerts promise to excite and delight, so don’t hesitate. Make plans to attend both of them today!