Church invites all to ‘A Celebration of Life’

Round Hill Community Church invites all to “A Celebration of American Life” on Sunday, Nov. 22, at the 10 a.m. worship service. The Round Hill Choir, Solo Quartet and Chamber Orchestra, under the direction of Christopher Kabala, will present a program of anthems and readings celebrating American life. Anthems from Colonial America, the Civil War Period, and the 20th Century will be presented along with readings of Robert Frost, ee cummings and James Agee. The composers will include Stephen Paulus, John Rutter, Randall Thompson, Aaron Copland, and Morten Lauridsen. The program will be divided into three sections with each section celebrating a different aspect of American life.

The harvest section will include John Rutter’s “We Plough the Fields and Scatter,” as well as Stephen Paulus’ “Pilgrim Hymn.” Paulus was one of America’s finest choral composers until his tragic death in 2014. He is well known to Greenwich audiences, his works being frequently performed by the Greenwich Choral Society.

The section, America Dreams, will include James Agee’s poem “Sure on This Shining Night” as set by the west coast composer Morten Lauridsen. Lauridsen was the subject of a recent award winning documentary entitled Shining Night which offers a glimpse of the life and music of one of the greatest living composers, who spends summers on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest and whom musicologist Nick Strimple distinguishes as ‘the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic.’ Robert Frost’s poem “Choose Something Like a Star” was set to music by Harvard’s Randall Thompson to commemorate the bicentennial of the town of Amherst Massachusetts. Because Thompson composed the work while in Switzerland, Frost heard the piece for the first time at its premiere at the Amherst Regional High School in Amherst on October 18, 1959. Thompson conducted the premiere and used the Bicentennial Chorus, made up of local singers, and piano accompaniment (Thompson did not orchestrate the suite until after Frost’s death in 1965). According to some reports, Frost was so delighted by the performance that, at the conclusion of the piece, he stood up and shouted, “Sing that again!” In fact, he was so impressed by the composition that he banned any other composers from setting his poems to music.

The final section, America at Play, will present readings by Walt Whitman and Alexis de Tocqueville as well as two choruses from Copland’s opera The Tender Land – “Stomp Your Foot” and “The Promise of Living.” The opera tells the story of a farm family in the American Midwest. Copland was inspired to write this opera after viewing the Depression-era photographs of Walker Evans and reading James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.” The choruses from The Tender Land are among the most beloved and exuberant works in the American repertoire.

Round Hill Community Church is located at 395 Round Hill Road in Greenwich. A Celebration of American Life will take place during the 10 a.m worship service on Sunday, November 22. Church School is available for children and Childcare will be provided for infants and toddlers. There is no admission charge, but a free will offering will be taken.

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