THE International Orange Chorale of San Francisco, a recipient of the 2011 Chorus America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming, will have upcoming performances in the Bay Area on December 7 (Christ Church, 2138 Cedar Street in Berkeley, CA) and December 14 (St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 1111 O’Farrell Street in San Francisco, CA). Both performances start at 7:30PM.
The concerts will feature a selection of 20th and 21st century choral pieces by composers from the Philippines, Indonesia and South Korea. Among the composers represented in the program include Excelsis Betil-Viña, Fidel Calalang Jr., Ryan Cayabyab, Saunder Choi, Francisco Feliciano, Gregorio Responso Labja, Slamet Sjukur, Mary Katherine Trangco and Hyo-Won Woo.
Led by artistic director Zane Fiala and with Robin Estrada as 2019 composer-in-residence, most of the pieces IOCSF will be performing this season come from the Philippines, a tremendously diverse country of more than 100 million people speaking over 100 languages.
The Filipino composers, likewise, span diverse genres: sacred and secular, folk-influenced and avant-garde, popular and classical. On the sacred side, we have two settings of traditional liturgical texts in Tagalog: Fidel Calalang Jr.’s “Ama Namin” is a lush setting of the Pater Noster text filled with longing for peace and redemption, while Ryan Cayabyab’s “Aba Po, Santa Mariang Reyna” brings an energetic contrapuntal sensibility to the Salve Regina. Among the most complex pieces on our program is Mary Katherine Trangco’s “Juan 14,” setting “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; while among the most minimalist is Francisco Feliciano’s “To the Unnamed Light” on a devotional text by Rabindranath Tagore. Excelsis Betil-Viña brings us “Glong-Ngo Ko,” a raw and heartfelt, powerful hymn of praise in Cebuano and Giangan. Rounding out our sacred repertoire is the up-tempo, polyrhythmic “Cum Sancto Spiritu” by South Korean composer Hyo-Won Woo.
The program also represents popular musical traditions with a contemporary choral sensibility. We include the simple, direct love song “Usahay” by Gregorio Responso Labja, while an arrangement by Saunder Choi of the childrens’ song “Leron, Leron Sinta” plays with rhythms, tempi, and harmonies to make a piece that’s anything but simple. Finally, we go to Indonesia for Slamet Sjukur’s “Tetabeuhan-Sungut,” in which the choristers imitate the sounds of a gamelan orchestra.
“The music this season fits perfectly with our goal of programming choral music that expands our listeners’ horizons,” says Fiala, who has collaborated on concerts and new works with composers including Jake Heggie, David Conte, Joseph Gregorio, Robin Estrada, Dominick DiOrio, Shaffer McGee, and Nico Muhly during his time with the chorale. “These pieces are intricately constructed, dramatically engaging, and loads of fun to sing. We can’t wait to bring them to you!”
Named after the color of the Golden Gate Bridge, the International Orange Chorale, founded in 2003, is an auditioned volunteer-based chamber choir devoted to performing established repertoire of all periods, with particular attention to contemporary music including newly commissioned works by promising composers. IOCSF has performed world premieres of more than forty choral works by composers including David Conte, Nico Muhly, and Caroline Shaw, and has also presented regional premieres of works including Milton Babbitt’s “Music for the Mass,” Thomas Ades’ “Fayrfax Carol” and the 2008 revision of Jake Heggie’s “Faith Disquiet.”
IOCSF has collaborated with Frederica von Stade, Zheng Cao, Jake Heggie, and Nicolle Foland; appeared as part of the Noontime Concert Series at Old St. Mary’s Church and the Noe Valley Chamber Music Series in San Francisco; performed in collaboration with the Yale Glee Club at Grace Cathedral; participated in the Haiti Earthquake Relief Concert at the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland; premiered several commissioned works for the 75th Anniversary celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge; and served as a Featured Ensemble, giving both performances and master classes, at the Chorus America National Conference. Since its inception, the group has been committed to performing free concerts featuring challenging and imaginative a cappella choral programming.
Zane Fiala, artistic director of IOCSF since 2009, has conducted a performance with the Yale Glee Club and has worked with guest clinicians including Ragnar Bohlin, Joseph Jennings, Ian Robertson, Magen Solomon, Joshua Habermann, and Vance George. In 2010, Mr. Fiala conducted IOCSF in the west coast premiere (and first ever unaccompanied performance) of Milton Babbitt’s “Music for the Mass.” His work with the ensemble has led to the premieres of dozens of compositions including his own Es la mañana llena and Cosmos. Mr. Fiala received his M.A. in Choral Conducting from San Francisco State University where he studied with Joshua Habermann (Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Dallas Symphony Chorus), and his B.A. in Jazz Studies from Columbia College Chicago.
Composer-in-residence Robin Estrada, meanwhile, ranks among the bold and innovative talents in Philippine contemporary music composition. The melding of Western forms with Southeast Asian musical styles in Estrada’s works accentuate the finesse and fire of the region’s cultural diversity, evoking a unique sound that brings Asia to the world of contemporary art music. The repertoire selection process for “East by Southeast” relied heavily on Robin’s extensive knowledge of Philippine choral music and contemporary Filipino composers. Awarded the Quimson Fellow by the Asian Cultural Council, Estrada has also received several awards, recognitions, commissions and has collaborated with various ensembles as composer-in-residence. Estrada’s music has been performed by groups including Volti, San Francisco Choral Artists, Empyrean Ensemble, Del Sol String Quartet, Ateneo Chamber Singers, Philippine Madrigal Singers, and the Australian Chamber Choir.
For more information on the International Orange Chorale of San Francisco and upcoming performances, visit www.iocsf.org, www.facebook.com/iocsf/?ref=br_rs, or call Jon Diaz at (415) 694-8871.