The greatest musical experience of my life!

    Ensemble Altera









NOTE: While this post is about an experience I had this past December, I hope it will interest you in an upcoming concert on March 5: information at the end of this post!

I've spent a long time writing this post and it's only after careful consideration and reflection that I make this statement:

On Saturday night, December 9, 2023,
    I had the greatest musical experience of my life!
I'm grateful for the algorithm that back on September 16, 2023  connected my Facebook page with a video clip of Ensemble Altera, a group I'd not heard of until then.  Looking back on that post I see that I leftthe comment:  The pure sound of human voices in harmony: divinity within our reach!  
Not long after seeing that post I was excited to find publicity for a concert scheduled in downtown Boston at the Church of the Advent, just off Charles Street.  What an evening!
On December 9, Ensemble Altera included 18 voices, 9 men and 9 women, under the thoroughly attentive and sensitive direction of Christopher Lowrey. Rather than watching an individual leading a group of singers, I had more an experience of conductor and ensemble moving together, pulsing as one - as a couple moves effortlessly as one across a dance floor, even though one leads and one follows.
I love music but I'm not a musician: I have no musical training; I don't read music; and apart from a few basic chords on the guitar, I play no instrument.  But I know what music I like - better yet, the music I love - and I loved what I heard on the night of December 9.  Two words kept coming to mind during the performance: perfect and pure.  The Ensemble sound is flawlessly, perfectly balanced.  The voices are sculpted, woven, blended as one, as smooth as pure silk - and yet possessed of the depth and substance their repertoire demands.
(It would only be fair to mention that the Church of the Advent was the perfect setting for this concert. The sanctuary's acoustics partnered exquisitely with Ensemble Altera's sound!)
The concert, titled A Christmas Present, came with a stocking stuffer: the program notes! Thank you, Christopher Lowrey, for such concise, helpful background information on the music we heard.  These notes offered solid musicological detail and yet were more than accessible to someone as unschooled as me. The evening's program brought home a lesson I learn over and over again: what a difference an arrangement makes!  Arrangements of Coventry Carol (Richard Allain), In The Bleak Midwinter (Ola Gjeilo), and Les anges dans nos compagnes (Tobias Frank) all stood out for me.  But it was the evening's world premier of (Ensemble Altera bass) Michael Garrepy's arrangement O Holy Night (Adolphe Adam) that took my breath away: as the piece ended I thought, "Now, that's how this song is meant to sound!" Here's a video of this piece: can you not hear the angel hosts softly pulsing, winging their presence over Bethlehem?  Magnificent!
O Holy Night (Adolphe Adam) 
    arranged by Michael Garrepy
If a video doesn't appear below, click here! 

And don't miss this: 
    here's a sample of the breadth of EA's musical reach!
And all of this is why December 9, 2023 
    was the greatest musical experience of my life!
Now, I'd love for YOU to share this experience 
    - and here's an opportunity!
A free 2 hour concert by Ensemble Altera
    at the Providence Public Library atrium,
        Tuesday, March 5 
            pre-Concert talk at 5:00 p.m.
            Concert at 5:30 p.m.

"The concert will feature pieces by composers of color, including 'This Little Light of Mine", arranged by the world-renowned Moses Hogan, Billie Holiday's powerful 'Strange Fruit', a powerful commentary on our dark past, as well as new and hopeful arrangements of the beloved spirituals 'Amazing Grace' and 'Were you there?' that have become an indelible part of the fabric of American musical life. Alongside these selections will be a potpourri of traditional folk songs as well as arrangements of modern and popular works, including beloved music from Disney films, performed by Rhode Island’s premiere professional choral ensemble. Alongside this wonderful music, the evening celebrates and centers the diversity that is a hallmark of our complicated American heritage."

Follow this link to reserve your free tickets! 

Maybe I'll see you there!



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