Wilmington Choral Society concludes season

The Wilmington Choral Society concludes its 67th season with a performance Sunday, May 20, at 4 p.m. in the Wilson Center. The Sunday matinee is titled “Sing Me to Heaven” and is directed by Paula Brinkman.

The program features John Rutter’s Requiem, a musical setting of parts of the Latin Requiem with added psalms and biblical verses in English. The work is scored for soprano soloist, mixed choir, and chamber orchestra.

“John Rutter wrote the Requiem in honor of his father,” according to Choral Society Director Brinkman, “and since its completion and premiere in 1985, his Requiem has become a modern classic. We are so excited to present to the Cape Fear audience our vision of Mr. Rutter’s Requiem featuring soprano soloist Shannon Kessler Dooley.”

Known for her lyricism and expressiveness, Shannon Kessler Dooley is quickly gaining a reputation for herself in the operatic world as a soprano to watch. Career highlights have included lead and cover roles in productions of Opera Theatre of Connecticut, the Metropolitan Opera, Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, and Spoleto, USA. In addition to her schedule of recitals in the U.S. and abroad, her concert credits include performances with the Pittsburgh Symphony, Utah Symphony, and Asheville Symphony.

The Choral Society will pair Requiem with two other choral classics, “Sing Me to Heaven,” by Daniel Gawthrop, written just a few years after the Rutter Requiem in 1991, and Gabriel Fauré ‘s choral masterpiece “Cantique de Jean Racine.” The text is a French paraphrase by Racine of a Latin hymn that Fauré set to music for an 1865 composition competition in Paris. Although he was just 19 years old at the time, Fauré’s composition won him first prize! It has become one of his most popular works.

Also in the solo spotlight are Nora Mark and Abigale Hawkins, both winners of the Wilmington Choral Society’s 2018 Ralph Robins Scholarship Award. Nora Mark is a graduating senior at Ashley High School with plans to continue her music education at Florida State University. Abigale Hawkins, a New Hanover High School senior, will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill in the fall.

“All in all, the Choral Society’s program provides audience members a marvelous opportunity to experience the heavenly beauty of choral harmonies,” adds Brinkman. “And because the concert is being performed at the Wilson Center in Historic Downtown Wilmington, there is easy access to restaurants for families to enjoy a lovely program and afternoon.”

Food donations will be collected in the lobby that day for Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard food bank.

Reserved seat tickets are available from the Wilson Center, 703 N. 3rd Street; by phone from the Cape Fear Stage Box Office at the Wilson Center 910-362-7999 or online at www.wilmingtonchoralsociety.com.

Parking is available at the adjacent CFCC Parking Deck for $5 per car, or in City of Wilmington parking decks for $1 per hour. On-street parking is free on Sundays.

The Wilmington Choral Society, founded in 1950 as the Wilmington Oratorio Society, is dedicated to high performance standards in presenting masterworks of choral literature, as well as a variety of contemporary selections. The Choral Society has established itself as an integral part of the area’s cultural community, and its community outreach extends to its annual music scholarships and the food donations to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. In recent years, the Society has grown to more than 100 voices hailing from New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, and Duplin Counties. The Choral Society is supported by member dues, ticket sales, and donations.