On Saturday, March 12, all three YNYC ensembles (women’s, mixed, and chamber) will join together for “Orbital Family.” Below are program notes from YNYC Artistic Director Michael Kerschner on the concert.
There is a time of day when the horizon is lit by zodiacal light; the glow of stardust known as false dawn. Not day or night, earth or sky. Neither real nor imaginary, it is a time before the dawn when our dreams turn to flying.
It is YNYC’s 15th anniversary season, and it has been a time of looking back. Our story starts with an idea that young professionals in New York City would crave the deep connection they felt when they have sung in choir. Singers of considerable talent have been flocking to our auditions ever since, not to be featured soloists, but to be part of the machine of harmony.
Most of the time we are an old-fashioned organization that presents choral works in the most beautiful rooms in NYC. We also have a reputation for flexibility and generosity in the realm of new music collaborations. Our biggest risks have all been star-related. From Marco Brambilla’s “Creation,” Ander Mikalson and Caroline Shaw’s “Score for the Big Bang,” and commissioning Shara Worden’s “The Pleiades.” It wasn’t intentional, but serendipity must be at play. My first season with YNYC was 10 years ago, and the final concert was called Dreamers Awake. We performed “Leonardo” at that concert, and it was like a declaration of purpose. Our dreams have served our need to connect through harmony, and it has brought to life new music by composers who are making crucial and influential music.
Orbital Family is a celebration of the YNYC family, and our theme returns to the night sky, the original silver screen upon which stories danced. Our repertoire contains some of these stories. Eric Whitacre’s music, coupled with Charles Anthony Silvesti’s libretto, tells the story of Leonardo’s imaginings in the style of a 16th century madrigal with word painting, chains of suspensions, and plenty of melodrama. The final third of the piece is a minimalistic flying scene. You’ll feel the wind in your hair, and the sweet serenity of floating above Tuscany. Shara Worden uses a similar musical language to touch on both the science and mythology of a fabled constellation. More than anything, it is a touching story about brotherhood and sisterhood. The beautiful “Choral Hymns from the Rig Veda” are in honor of Vena, the personification of a celestial being: a rainbow, the marriage of water and light, the domain of the zodiacal light. Our final piece, Steven Sametz’s “in time of,” brings all of the YNYC family together. The Cummings poem is a beautiful response to the inquiry of the sphinx, telling the story of our lifespan through the desires of flowers, who remind us that the aim of waking is to dream