'American Made' choral concert features work of Trumbull composer
Published 4:33 pm, Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The composer, a 22-year-old Trumbull resident and CCC singer, studied music composition at the University of Rochester and said he comes from "a very musical family."
Under the leadership of Constance Chase, director of the West Point Glee Club, the "American Made" concert also will feature the New England premier of Elizabeth Lim's "The Tempest," and songs by Kurt Weill and Maury Yeston. Guest artist William R. Braun will be at the piano for the McCormack piece; guest baritone is Christopher Judd, who has performed with the New York Philharmonic. Frank Zilinyi, director of music at St. Mary's Church in Milford, will serve as choir accompanist.
McCormack said Sonnet 18 is among Shakespeare's most popular, which reads, in part:
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date."
McCormack said he was driven to write the piece to make Shakespeare more understandable to modern audiences.
"It's very easy for us to glaze over Shakespeare. The language is archaic enough that to the untrained ear, it only just barely qualifies as English, and the slow, rolling rhythm of iambic pentameter can make it easy to tune out the words completely when listening," he wrote in an email.
"One of my biggest frustrations with the existing musical settings of Shakespeare sonnets is that rather than attempting to fix this, they tend to fall victim to it -- the rhythm becomes too regular, the rich and interesting personality conveyed by the text lost in a slow, plodding, overly respectful drone.
More InformationSt. Theresa Church, 5301 Main St., Trumbull. Sunday, May 4, 4 p.m. $20-free. 203-459-1496, connecticutchamberchoir.com
"So with my setting of his 18th sonnet, I very consciously tried to push in the opposite direction with every element of the piece. From the first line of the poem ... the sonnet has always seemed to ring with youthful energy to me, and I wanted to capture that. Ultimately, I did so through the piano part -- an unusually athletic accompaniment for a choral piece, jumping register and rarely slowing down at all."
Although under two minutes, McCormack said that the piece, written a few years ago, was quite challenging.
"The choral part, rather than sitting on top of the piano part, interweaves with it. The two syncopate in what hopefully is a playful fashion. ... It's one of the shortest pieces I've composed, but it's also one of the most intricate."
McCormack said began singing and playing the piano at the age 5; in he past year, he has written several pieces for local choirs, he said. At Rochester, he was the director and primary arranger for his a cappella group, After Hours.
McCormack, a tenor, said he expects the concert will be very special to him for several reasons -- and not the least of them being that his mother, alto Sarah McCormack, is also a CCC member and will be on stage to share the "Sonnet 18" experience with him.
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St. Theresa Church, 5301 Main St., Trumbull. Sunday, May 4, 4 p.m. $20-free. 203-459-1496, connecticutchamberchoir.com.