Surprises in Store From Masterworks Choral Ensemble

by Molly Gilmore for OLY ARTS

This season, Masterworks Choral Ensemble will travel to the frontier, celebrate the sometimes-overlooked talents of female composers and visit some of Broadway’s most colorful characters. And the ensemble’s taking a creative approach to concert themes: The Broadway concert focuses on heroes and villains, while the concert composed by women is titled Hidden Musical Figures. “We had a discussion about what would be an interesting season that looks a little different than the past,” artistic director Gary Witley said. “This is our 37th year, and we’re continuing to find ways to bring different kinds of music to the community but still at a high quality level. People don’t think of a choir doing songs of the Old West. Villain and hero music doesn’t sound like your traditional choir.”

Way Out West: Beloved American Ballads (October 14) features both music of the westward expansion and early 20th-century tunes that evoke that era. Season of Light: A Holiday Celebration (December 2) includes songs of Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and winter solstice. Harmony Sweepstakes A Cappella Festival (March 10) is the Northwest-regional portion of a nationwide competition. Renegade Quartet, last year’s Northwest champion, will host. Hidden Musical Figures: Women Composers (April 14) pays tribute to female composers from the 12th-century Hildegard of Bingen to talents of today. Naughty and Nice: Broadway’s Villains and Heroes (June 16) includes evocative songs from such musicals as The Music Man and Sweeney Todd.

The ensemble, made up of about 60 singers in their 20s through 60s, is open by audition only. “It’s experienced choral-music people, basically,” Witley said. “We run the gamut from people who have made it past our auditions to people who are musicians and can do everything a professional musician would.”

What: Way Out West: Beloved American Ballads

Where: The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14

How much: $73-$109 yearly subscription

Get tickets: 360-753-8586 | MCE

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