Press Release May 14, 2017

May 14, 2017: For immediate release

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Energetic and Engaging Ming Luke leads the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra in Antonin Dvořák's moving Stabat Mater

The dynamic and inspiring conductor, Ming Luke, leads the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) in Dvořák's stirring Stabat Mater in Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.

Performances are June 2 at 8:00 pm and June 3 and 4 at 3:00 pm. Soloists are: Ariana Strahl, Soprano; Kara Cornell, mezzo-soprano; Brian Thorsett, tenor; and Colin Ramsey, bass.

Concerts are free

The program opens with the orchestra playing Beethoven's Egmont Overture which travels from tragedy to triumph in a musical arc which echoes that of the Stabat Mater.

Dvořák started writing his Stabat Mater in 1875 when his infant daughter died. Two years later he lost a young daughter to accidental poisoning and his remaining child, a son, to smallpox.

His household was now bereft of the joyful sound of children’s voices. From such a tragic beginning, one might expect this Stabat Mater to be very dark. However, over ten movements, the mood shifts from grief and despair to uplifting hope and faith in redemption. In the final minutes the unaccompanied chorus sings an a capella hymn of joy and praise:

When my body dies,
Make it be that my soul be granted
The glory of paradise.
Then the orchestra and the chorus are together for the final "Amen".

(Translation by BCCO singer Lawrence DiCostanzo.)

The music of the Stabat Mater is indeed glorious and a joy to both listen to and sing.

Music Director Luke has said while the beginning of this work is sad and poignant, the ending feels exuberant and triumphant. As a BCCO singer comments, "If you've ever had a sick child -- even just a regular childhood illness -- and wished you were sick instead -- well, that's the Stabat Mater.  It asks us to come in and share. It makes us realize this sharing, this empathy, is in our blood. The Stabat Mater is threaded together with love.”

The Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra is a 230 person chorus under the leadership of Music Director Ming Luke.

It has just celebrated its 50th anniversary. BCCO is open to singers at all levels of musicianship and is committed to providing free concerts to make great music available to all.

We invite you to come to a concert and would be delighted if you were to publicize and/or review it.