Great things are happening for Albany Pro Musica.
In August, 36 women from the mixed chorus sang as the sirens of Neptune in Holst’s “The Planets” with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
On Saturday, the group will open its 35th season with a gala concert at the Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, celebrating APM’s historic alliance with the hall as chorus-in-residence.
Albany Pro Musica
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Troy Savings Bank Music Hall, Second and State streets, Troy
HOW MUCH: $50, $35 (concert only)
MORE INFO: 273-0038, www.troymusichall.org
“It was incredibly exciting to participate with the Philadelphia Orchestra. It was our first time at SPAC,” said Jose Daniel Flores-Caraballo, APM’s artistic director since August 2014.
“And this creative/business exchange relationship will benefit both of us and will give us exposure to the community. It gives APM a sense of identity. We’re thrilled to be part of the history of the hall.”
Creating an alliance
Jon Elbaum, the hall’s executive director, said he and his board had been looking for this type of alliance with a local creative group for some time and had been talking with a committee from the APM as long ago as a year. When Flores-Caraballo was hired, he became part of those discussions.
“Other choruses have a home, like the Washington Chorus has the Kennedy Center and the Los Angeles Master Chorale has Disney Hall,” he said. “We wanted a hall with some prestige and that had ideal acoustics. We knew the Troy hall was one of the finest.”
Once the agreement was signed last spring, Flores-Caraballo began to dream.
“What’s exciting is that there are no limitations for repertoire. We can do a cappella or with a piano or a full orchestra,” he said.
“We can use a variety of different instrumental forces because of the size of the stage, and with the hall’s capable stage crew it is easier. It is an ideal place to explore.”
Because this concert is special, Flores-Caraballo is trying something new.
“Instead of doing entire pieces, I went with the names engraved on the hall’s walls and took selections from their works,” he said. “The first part of the concert will be like an oratorio or motet; the second will be a new Requiem in that each selection follows the order of a Requiem but be from a different composer.”
The names on the walls are Haydn, J.S.Bach, Chopin, Handel, Beethoven, and Mozart. Except for Chopin, who wrote little for voice, all the other composers are represented. The works include a movement from Handel’s “Messiah” and a Kyrie from Bach’s “Mass in B minor.”
“The genius of Bach is stunning. I get exhilarated whenever I conduct it,” Flores-Caraballo said. “Yet the genius of Handel is also incredibly exciting. Each of the composers on the program wrote in different styles but their music is timeless.”
Because the program reflects three decades of APM music making including his own participation, Flores-Caraballo included a new Palestrina piece for the 80-voice chorus, two works from last spring’s concert by Frank Martin and Raymond Torres-Santos, and a piece on the second half by Maurice Durufle that he said was so beautiful he would like it played at his own funeral.
Other works on the first half include a Monteverdi Vespers and a selection from Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria.” The second half opens and closes with Mozart and includes a marvelous song by Brahms. The soloists all come from the choir and there is a 42-piece orchestra.
The gala begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail reception at Bush Memorial Hall at Sage College, 65 First Street in Troy. Cost is $175.