With all of the attention focused on conductor Carlos Kalmar’s recent Carnegie Hall triumph and his newly expanded role in the Grant Park Music Festival, it may be easy to overlook the significant contribution that Christopher Bell has made to the festival during what is now a decade of directing the Grant Park Chorus.
Bell has transformed what was already a fine chorus into an instrument of remarkable transparency and flexibility which is spectacularly showcased on the just-released Cedille Records release “The Pulitzer Project” where the chorus is heard performing the Pulitzer Prize-winning works William Schuman’s “A Free Song” and Leo Sowerby’s “The Canticle of the Sun” along with Kalmar and the Grant Park Orchestra. The chorus itself, by itself, will be the centerpiece of a special indoor Harris Theater a cappella concert of contemporary American choral music this week while Taste of Chicago is in full noisy swing outdoors.
The eclectic program includes Wisconsin-born Minnesota composer Abbie Betinis’ 2005 “Toward Sunshine, Toward Freedom: Songs of Smaller Creatures” based on animal poetry of Hans Christian Andersen, Walter de la Mare and Charles Swinburne; Milwaukee-born Glen Ellyn composer Lee Kesselman’s 1976 “Buzzings: Three pieces for Mixed Chorus” inspired by poems of Emily Dickinson; Eric Whitacre’s popular biblical lamentation “When David Heard;” Chicago composer Stacy Garrop’s 2004 “Sonnets of Desire, Longing, and Whimsy” based on poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay; Gian Carlo Menotti’s 1998 “Regina Caeli;” David Del Tredici’s “Acrostic Song” from his 1976 opera and Solti/CSO favorite “Final Alice;” Ned Rorem’s 1986 “Seven Motets for the Church Year,” British-born Paul Crabtree’s 1999 “Five Romantic Miniatures (from The Simpsons): Abe, Lisa, Homer, Marge & Homer” and Whitacre’s 2010 YouTube virtual choir piece, “Sleep.” (Dennis Polkow)
6:30pm-8pm, June 28 & 30, Millennium Park’s Harris Theater, 205 East Randolph, (312)742-7638. Free.