Announcing our spring 2019 concert series: "Sing Joyfully!"
The Philharmonic Chorus of Madison will present a concert series, “Sing Joyfully!”, three, free performances in April to celebrate spring’s long awaited arrival, pay tribute in memory of longtime member Jeanne Maruska, and award summer music clinic scholarships at the finale to area high school choral students.
The Chorus will offer three performances:
Wednesday, April 24, 7 pm
in the Arts Center of Oakwood Village University Woods,
6209 Mineral Point Road
Friday, April 26, 7:30 pm
at Christ Presbyterian Church
944 E. Gorham Street
Sunday, April 28, 2:00pm
at Bethany United Methodist Church
3910 Mineral Point Road
At the final concert, the chorus also will award three scholarships to Madison area high school choral students, allowing them to attend the UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic. In 1981, the chorus began this initiative, offering students an opportunity to spend a week with teachers devoted to excellence in music education. Since 1991, the chorus has awarded more than $60,000 in scholarships to over 130 students.
Under the direction of Dr. Patrick Gorman, the premier a cappella group is best known for a festive start to the holiday season with the ever popular Tudor Holiday Dinner Concerts in Great Hall of the Wisconsin Memorial Union. However, Gorman and the chorus offer an equally enjoyable start to springtime and summer days to follow with the April concert series, and the performances are free, including a reception following each.
Gorman’s spring concert program includes Quatre Motets sur des themes gregoriens by Maurice Duruflé, When David Heard by Norman Dinerstein, and works from the Baroque Era by Antonio Lotti and Orlando Gibbons. Dr. Gorman also has included a spiritual, always popular, The Battle of Jericho, arranged by Mose Hogan.
A highlight, especially for members past and present, is Only in sleep, a contemporary piece by Ēriks Ešenvalds. The selection is dedicated in memory of Jeanne Maruska. She was a soprano for many years, not only with the chorus, but Symphony Singers, Madison Theatre Guild, Madison Opera, and church choirs. Her husband, Gerald “Gerry,” sang tenor with the chorus. She passed away on Feb. 7, 2018.
“Jeanne was a very fine soprano, with a very lovely, full rich voice,” Gorman said. “She could sing solos, sing in a section, almost always had a big smile, and she took on any job. She served on the board, would host receptions. She was Tudor czarina for many, many years. She really loved the chorus.”
When Gorman heard people donated funds for music in her memory, Ešenvalds’ piece quickly came to mind. “It was the first thing I thought of,” he said, “because I think the poem is so touching, seeing people in the past in your dreams, kind of being there with them. And then you wake up and they’re gone. I think Jeanne would have liked and actually would have sung it beautifully. It’s a beautiful piece, one that I think will be a great addition to our library and to our concert.”
The challenge in singing Only in sleep is maintaining one’s composure, for it tugs at the heart strings, even those of newer members who didn’t know Jeanne as well as members who sang with her for years. Soprano Shannon O’Brien Kaszuba, soloist in the moving tribute to Jeanne Maruska, recalls her first year with the chorus and how welcoming Jeanne was, quick to invite her to join a newly formed women’s sextet for Tudor dinners.
“Very friendly, always smiling, of good humor,” Kaszuba said. “She reminded me very much of my own grandmother.”
Said Gorman, “She was always so kind to me from the first day I started. I still remember, after about the second Tudor dinner my first year, she came up to me just all giddy and excited about how it went, because I think the members were worried that I would be a big flop, just as much as I was worried about it.”
To be sure, the tribute to Jeanne Maruska will bring sadness. And yet a smile or two, if not laughter, when one recalls her as the diva, claiming center stage as the soloist in the The Twelve Days of Christmas during Tudor holiday concerts not so long ago.
“She played the role of the diva perfectly, and I have to say, every single night we did it, I had to laugh, because she was just so funny, and her voice, she could pull it off, too! It was such a big voice.”
When the chorus performs The Twelve Days of Christmas, Kaszuba draws enthusiastic applause and laughter as the leading lady. But in her mind, Maruska reigns diva supreme. “She was always expressive in her singing, but especially when she was given an opportunity to ‘ham it up’,” Kaszuba said. “I’m pretty sure Christmas was a favorite holiday for her as well. I will always remember her smile and generosity.”
All are welcome to join Gorman and the chorus for the “Sing Joyfully” concerts, a celebration of spring, Jeanne Maruska and a new generation of talented young vocalists.