Viva Vivaldi! Choral Society of the Hamptons Celebrates Spring

Choral Society of the Hamptons. Photo courtesy of David Brandenburg.
Choral Society of the Hamptons. Photo courtesy of David Brandenburg.

By Tessa Raebeck

Along with an organ, trumpets, strings and at least one oboe, over 70 musicians will fill the East Hampton Presbyterian Church Sunday for the Choral Society of the Hamptons’ spring concert, a festive and joyous celebration of the season.

“Viva Vivaldi!” will feature guest conductor Walter Klauss. Several guest soloists and the South Fork Chamber Ensemble will join the choral society in an energetic concert to welcome spring.

“A lot of the themes in the text of the different pieces reflect renewal and simple expressions of joy, which reflect the season very aptly,” said David Brandenburg, the society’s executive director.

Guest conductor Walter Klauss.
Guest conductor Walter Klauss.

The chorus will perform J.S. Bach’s cantata, “Gott ist mein König,” with themes of aging and renewal sung in German, Bach’s native tongue.

“Bach, for one,” said Mr. Brandenburg, “was extraordinarily prolific in his writing for chorus and orchestra…. He at one point was writing one of these pieces almost every week. It’s really quite amazing.”

The cantata will feature the chorus soloists, as well as a small chamber orchestra with five string instruments, several wind instruments and an organ.

The cornerstone piece of the program is “Gloria, Cantata 71” by Antonia Vivaldi, another baroque master and an 18th century contemporary of Bach’s. The popular, often performed piece is sung in Latin with the unusual instrumentation of strings, a single oboe and a trumpet. It includes two female soloists and the chorus and has “sprightly tempos and rich harmonies,” according to Daniel McKeever, the society’s president who is also in the chorus.

“That’s perhaps the favorite piece of the program for fans of choral music,” Mr. Brandenburg said of the exultant and popular song.

The third feature is “Five Mystical Songs,” a collection written between 1906 and 1911 by Ralph Vaughan Williams, a leading British composer of the early 20th century, who urges, “Let the world in every corner sing.”

“It’s very accessible and very melodic, but it will be a nice, more contemporary contrast between the two older works,” Mr. Brandenburg said.

The work sets four poems by George Herbert, a 17th century English poet and Anglican priest, to music. “Easter” is divided into four parts, resulting in five songs of metaphysical verse: “Easter,” “I Got Me Flowers,” Love Bade Me Welcome,” “The Call” and “Antiphon.” Although Vaughan Williams was an atheist at the time of his writing, he enjoyed using the imagery and mysticism of faith.

Some of the songs have a “very folk-like element to them,” Mr. Brandenburg said, adding that Vaughan Williams often used English folk melodies as inspiration and wrote for various types of instrumentation, including orchestra and band, as well as for chorus.

The concert will combine the chorus, made up of members of the local community who rehearse for 10 weeks in preparation for each concert, with professional conductors, soloists and instrumentalists.

Part-time East Hampton resident Walter Klauss, who is “terrific,” according to Mr. Brandenburg, will act as guest conductor. The founder of the Musica Viva concert series, Mr. Klauss has been the minister of music at All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City since 1976. He made his debut as an organist at the Cleveland Museum of Art at age 17 and recently performed at the Old Whalers’ Church in Sag Harbor, to which he will return for the 10 a.m. worship service Sunday.

“And then we’ll be joined by four very talented soloists who have all worked with Walter before and some of them have worked with us before,” Mr. Brandenburg said. “There will be eight instrumentalists, strings, oboe, trumpet and organ, so there will be quite a number.”

“It’s quite an impressive collection,” he continued, adding that some 70 to 80 musicians will be featured in the concert.

A benefit dinner featuring selections from Chef Mathias Brogie’s new spring menu at c/o The Maidstone, 207 Main Street in East Hampton, will follow the concert.

The Choral Society of the Hamptons will present “Viva Vivaldi!” on Sunday, March 30, at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of East Hampton, 120 Main Street in East Hampton. Tickets cost $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Youth tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Preferred-seating tickets are $75. Tickets to the concert and benefit dinner are $300. For tickets and more information, call 204-9402, or visit or the Romany Kramoris Gallery, 41 Main Street in Sag Harbor.