BRUNSWICK — Una Voce Chamber Choir (formerly Vox Nova) will present “Through the Long Night,” a program of winter-themed traditional and contemporary music, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19, and 2:30 p.m.Sunday, Jan. 20 in the Chapel at Bowdoin College.
The music marks transitions from night to coming dawn, and treats that in-between time as a metaphor for yearning, awe and hope — yearning for divine protection; awe beholding the beauty of nature; hope for salvation and love requited.
“My first choice as the major work for the concert,” said artistic director Virgil Bozeman IV, “was ‘Missa a capella’ by Einojuhani Rautavaara, perhaps the greatest Finnish composer since Sibelius.” Largely tonal, but pleasantly dissonant, the Mass features familiar harmonic progressions colored by “sound fields,” a term Rautavaara used for tone clusters. The resulting melodies have a chant-like character while evoking Eastern Orthodox rituals and earthy pre-Christian solstice rites. “What better way to delve into the mysterious, yet hopeful qualities that we northern folk associate with winter darkness and dawning light,” added Bozeman.
The program includes works by two other Scandinavian composers — “De Profundis” by Arvo Pärt, and “Evening Sonata”_ _by Thomas Åberg, the latter performed by organist Jay Zoller.
The concert also includes the Third Set of the “Hymns from the Rig Veda” by the English composer Gustav Holst. Featured among American composers are Eric Whitacre, Morton Lauridsen, Gwyneth Walker and Daniel Elder. The program concludes with African-American spirituals, each of which express prayerful, yet spirited longings for light beyond earthly pain.
Tickets cost $15 as an advanced purchase on line at unavocechamberchoir.org/ and $20 at the door. Youth (13 to 18 years), $10; children (12 and under) are free.