BCCO Announces January 2024 Concerts featuring works by Tippett & Wu

Tippets’ "A Child Of Our Time" and Sam Wu’s "the winds blow full of sand" to be performed in early January by the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) under the direction of Maestro Ming Luke

Date: November 5, 2023

Location: Berkeley, CA

For further information call 510-433-9599 or email Jan Murota, publicity chair, at jmsings17@gmail.com. Also see website: https://www.bcco.org

Tippets’ A Child Of Our Time and Sam Wu’s the winds blow full of sand to be performed in early January by the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) under the direction of Maestro Ming Luke. 

Ming Luke will lead the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra in three performances of A Child of Our Time and the winds blow full of sand. Performances will take place at Hertz Hall on the U.C. Berkeley campus on Friday, January 5 (at 7:30 pm); Saturday, January 6 (at 3 pm); and Sunday, January 7 (at 3 pm.) The concerts are free, donations gratefully accepted.

After its recent transcendent performances of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in June 2023.  the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra (BCCO) is preparing a January 2024 performance of the profound and relevant oratorio A Child of Our Time by Sir Michael Tippett along with the premiere of the wind blows full of sand by Sam Wu who composed the piece as a BCCO commission.


Sir Michael Tippett (1905-1998) began to write A Child of Our Time shortly after the outbreak of World War II in September 1939.  It arises out of Sir Michael’s deep compassion for the oppressed of the Great Depression and the oppressed of the Nazi regime.  It was composed during Sir Michael’s personal pacifist struggles that led even to a term of imprisonment.  It was first performed in April 1944.


This grand and somber piece is constructed in the classical oratorio form of composers like Handel and Bach.  The chorus and a full quartet of soloists sing in Part One of the fears and sorrows of the preceding decade all of which are translatable to our own times.   Part Two references and dramatizes the emotions and tragedies of the life of Herschel Grynszpan (the eponymous Child of the piece’s title), a German Jewish teenager whose assassination of a Nazi official in Paris triggered the infamous Kristallnacht.   Part Three seems to grope for resolution and reconciliation, recognizing the coexistence of both the awfulness of the human predicament and the hope of crossing the river to peace.  Throughout the work, Sir Michael radically substituted African-American spirituals, like Steal Away and Nobody Knows the Trouble, for chorales of his own as in the tradition of Bach.


The Sam Wu composition the wind blows full of sand was commissioned after Mr. Wu won BCCO’s  most recent Emerging Composer Competition. It was originally scheduled for a premiere in spring 2020, but the concert series was delayed by the pandemic.  Mr. Wu’s musical philosophy recognizes the range of cultures that we can come to know in our shrinking world.  His goal is to put his music at the boundaries of these different cultures, for example, creating dialogue in composition between different traditions of musicality and of musical instruments like the Mongolian horse head fiddle and the cello.


The BCCO is now in its 58th straight season.  Remarkably, as the largest standing symphonic chorus in at least the San Francisco Bay Area, if not beyond, it is a chorus that does not require auditions.  It relies on dedication, the love of music and of the organization, and, importantly, on hard work to produce its precision, its resonant timbre, and the excitement of its performances.  It works under the direction of Maestro Ming Luke and a music staff.  It also seeks to provide young musicians performance opportunities as soloists.  A sample of its more recent performances includes Benjamin Britten’s A War Requiem, Antonin Dvorak’s exquisite Stabat Mater, the entire cycle of Felix Mendelssohn oratorios, the Mozart Requiem, and many other works both modern and from our collective tradition.



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