MasterVoices Performs “Songs For A Midsummer Night” At Waterline Square Park In June

MasterVoices concludes its 2021-22 season by celebrating its 80th anniversary on Wednesday, June 8 with Songs for a Summer Night, a free outdoor performance at the new Waterline Square Park on the Upper West Side. The concert features several new arrangements demonstrating how the sounds of summer delight and inspire. Artistic director Ted Sperling conducts the MasterVoices Chorus and Orchestra of St. Luke’s with guest soprano Shereen Pimentel, who played Maria in the recent Broadway revival of West Side Story, and composer and tenor Tariq Al-Sabir. Drawing inspiration from composers from the Renaissance to the present day, the program includes the world premiere of Summers Are Growing Longer, a new work by Mr. Al-Sabir, commissioned by MasterVoices.

Mr Sperling said: “It has been exciting to be with a live audience again this season. What a pleasure it will be to share a beautiful June evening with our community as we close out our 80th anniversary season with a program that evoke the sounds, smells and emotions of summer, as imagined by some of our greatest composers, and hear Tariq Al-Sabir’s contemporary musical ideas inspired by the sounds of summer in New York .”

The program opens with Mendelssohn’s Scherzo and Song with Chorus from his musical suite for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. And what is summer without the chirping of crickets? The choir performs the playful Italian frottola El Grillo (“The Cricket”), by Renaissance composer Josquin des Prez. Most likely written for his friend Carlo Grillo, it is one of the first examples of text painting in music, when the music corresponds to the sung words.

Broadway composers are represented by Stephen Schwartz and Charles Strouse, Frank Loesser and Mr. Sperling’s arrangement of Sondheim’s Night Music Waltzes from “A Little Night Music.” The program also includes three songs by Ricky Ian Gordon: New Moon, on a poem by Langston Hughes; Joy, written for soprano Harolyn Blackwell; and summer. Next is Samuel Barber’s Knoxville: Summer 1915, his setting of a James Agee poem of the same title, which served as the preface to Agee’s 1948 novel A Death in the Family. This is followed by two songs from Les Nuits d’été, a cycle of songs by Berlioz on six poems by Théophile Gautier. The evening ends with the world premiere of the new play commissioned by Mr. Al-Sabir.

With Songs for a Summer Night, MasterVoices is proud to be part of the #FestivalofNY – a citywide celebration of all that makes us New Yorkers.

Songs for a Midsummer Night

Wednesday, June 8, 2022, 7 p.m. at Waterline Square Park (60th Street and Freedom Place South)

(Rain date: June 9, 7 p.m., same location)


Ted Sperling, artistic director and conductor

Orchestra of Saint Luke

Shereen Pimentel, soprano

Tariq Al-Sabir, tenor

Program to include:

Mendelssohn: Scherzo from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” in E major, Op. 21

Mendelssohn: Song with Chorus (from “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”)

Prez: El Grillo

Schwartz/Strouse: Blame it on the Summer Night (from “Rags”)

Loesser: Song of a Midsummer Night (from “The Most Happy Fella”)

Ricky Ian Gordon: Three Songs, New Moon, Summer and Joy

Barber: Knoxville: Summer 1915

Berlioz: Excerpts from Les nuits d’été, Villanelle and Le specter de la rose

Sondheim: Nocturnal Music Waltz Suite, arr. Ted Sperling

Tariq Al-Sabir: The Summers Are Getting Longer (World Premiere)

Tickets: The concert is free, no reservation necessary. A limited number of seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis and spectators are encouraged to bring blankets or lawn chairs.

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