Wicker Park Choral Singers has been delivering on the niche-iness and edginess implied with their namesake neighborhood. Less than a decade old, the WPCS brand already has strong associations with innovative programming, charismatic leadership (the handsome and skilled Mark Tomasino), and a warm-community feel not to be conflated with an amateur community choir. There are organizations twice their age that still have not established a brand as aptly and efficiently. WPCS’s current program centers on a theme that is well-represented in the 20th and 21st century choral canon – Space! Composers represented are Eriks Ešenvalds, Eric Whitacre, a premiere by Chicago-based Eric Malmquist, as well as a few not named Eric like Elliot Carter and Urmas Sisask. Performances are Saturday evening in Lincoln Park and Sunday afternoon in Pilsen. In a clever move, the Adler Planetarium’s Scopes in the City program will be participating in the Saturday performance with a viewing of Jupiter and the Moon (weather-permitting).
Another organization with a distinct identity returns to the Chopin Theater in Wicker Park. Chicago Fringe Opera begins a four-performance run of William Bolcom’s comic chamber opera Lucrezia starting this Saturday. Music Director Catherine O’Shaughnessy leads the 50-minute romp which is fleshed out with William Bolcom songs performed cabaret-style. The cast includes Matthan Ring Black who triumphed in last spring’s In the Penal Colony for Chicago Fringe Opera; as well as baritone Gabriel Di Gennaro, who will be starring in the Chicago Folks Operetta production of Kurt Weill’s Johnny Johnson this summer. Chicago’s own Opera Box Score radio and podcast has been previewing this production over the past two episodes including an interview with the composer. Take a listen HERE and HERE. This week’s Doing the Work podcast features an interview with Lucrezia librettist Mark Campbell. Listen HERE.
Quick Pick: Baritone Aaron Wardell, who sang with vocal luster even while frolicking gaily in an ermine cape in March’s Iolanthe with The Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, joins tenor Bradley Schuller and pianist Anatoliy Torchinskiy for a Sunday afternoon concert of Lieder and musical theater at Open Door Theater in Oak Park.