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Chicago Master Singers take flight in Dvořák rarity

Sun Nov 09, 2014 at 12:02 pm
By Lawrence A. Johnson

For most conductors, directing a performance of Mozart’s Requiem would be a demanding enough evening of choral music.

Leave it to Alan Heatherington to offer not one but two large-scale masses in the Chicago Master Singers’ season-opening program, twining Mozart’s dark swan song with a genuine rarity, Dvořák’s Mass in D major.

The Dvořák came first on the program, heard Friday night at Divine Word Chapel in Techny (and to be repeated tonight). Few composers as popular as Dvořák wrote so much music that is still largely unknown today. Most of his operas, besides Rusalka, and choral works remain terra incognita (though Carlos Kalmar has revived Dvořák’s Requiem and The Spectre’s Bridein recent Grant Park seasons and Heatherington and CMS offered Dvořák’s Stabat Mater three years ago).

Dvořák wrote his Mass in D major in 1887 for wealthy architect and benefactor Josef Hlavka to consecrate a new chapel built on his estate. The original was written for organ and the wives of Hlavka and Dvořák were the two female soloists at the premiere. Five years later, the Czech composer recast the work for full orchestra and that was the version heard Friday night.

From Beethoven to Holst, Chicago Master Singers present an array of sacred music

By Kyle MacMillan
Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 9:59 am

To be noticed in Chicago’s sprawling classical scene, dominated by a world-class symphony orchestra and opera company, smaller organizations have to find a niche.

And that’s exactly what the Chicago Master Singers has done.

Chicago Master Singers offer a Russian salute of their own

By Dennis Polkow
Sat Apr 21, 2012 at 1:18 pm

With the Chicago Symphony Orchestra making its second-ever Russian tour, the Chicago Master Singers offered a hometown salute to Russia of its own in preparation for its own tour of the Baltic states and St. Petersburg next summer.

By John von Rhein, Classical music critic
January 10, 2012

Chicago Tribune

There is no busier musician looking after the needs of classical music audiences on the North Shore than Alan Heatherington.

As music director of three respected organizations – the Ars Viva Symphony Orchestra, Lake Forest Symphony and Chicago Master Singers – the conductor has significantly raised the artistic level of each group. Thanks to the team efforts of his administrative officers and board members, the organizations are operating from a firm fiscal base, in contrast to the economic woes not-for-profits of comparable size are experiencing.

Chicago Master Singers present a moving, powerful account of Dvorák’s “Stabat Mater”

By Lawrence A. Johnson
Sun Nov 06, 2011 at 12:51 pm

The Chicago Master Singers — 129 strong — delivered daunting corporate power, dramatic point and dedication in their challenging role. For a non-professional chorus, the vocalism and tonal refinement was largely impressive with the singers showing commitment and stamina over the long evening.

Perfect storm of harmonies from Lake Forest Symphony

By DOROTHY ANDRIES, Classical Music Critic
May 25, 2011 6:48PM

Winnetka Talk (Sun Times / Pioneer Press)

Alan Heatherington conducts the Lake Forest Symphony

Conductor Alan Heatherington combined his Chicago Master Singers and Lake Forest Symphony Friday May 20 in the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts in Grayslake, and the results were stellar.

The featured work of the evening was Mendelsson’s Symphony No. 2 (“Lobgesang”) or “Hymn of Praise,” with sopranos Michelle Areyzaga and Tricia Melzer-Swaydrak, and tenor Kurt R. Hansen as soloists.

“Lobgesang” was sung in its original German, with a translation in the program. The singers’ spirited entrance, after the three orchestral movements, was stunning, filling the acoustically fine theater with glorious song.