Leaving Chicago

Photo courtesy of Enanna Sheena. Banner photo courtesy of Lydia Yee.

Photo courtesy of Enanna Sheena. Banner photo courtesy of Lydia Yee.

This weekend, Wicker Park Choral Singers pays tribute to founding conductor, Mark Tomasino, who has already moved to Austin, Texas, and must step down from his position as Artistic Director This is a blow to the choral scene in Chicago. Surely, the eleven year old ensemble will thrive with its dedicated members and highly skilled management still in place. But the enterprising Tomasino proved that someone with passion, talent, and a clear vision could create something original and valuable to the city’s choral music scene, which others may have written off as already saturated. WPCS is an organization that recognized a need in the community and designed its mission to fill that need. If you have yet to experience one of their thoughtful, warm, adventurous, and enlightening performances, I encourage you to visit their website and consider one of their two performances this weekend. I am personally quite sad about his departure as our interests in serving the community seem to be aligned. Austin probably has something very exciting coming soon. The official Mark’s Farewell Concert is Saturday afternoon. WPCS’s annual free concert in Wicker Park is on Sunday at noon.

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Fourth Coast Ensemble closes their season with a menagerie of animal-inspired songs by Schubert, Ravel, Larsen, and others. The two concerts (Friday evening at Fourth Presbyterian’s Buchanan Chapel and Sunday afternoon at the Logan Center in Hyde Park) mark the final performances of the ensemble’s founding tenor Zachary Vanderburg. Besides also having a highly specific mission, the reputation of Fourth Coast is built on the quality of its small roster of artists. Each singer has a unique tone quality and superior musicianship. Each can give compelling solo performances and then bend their instruments to harmonious collaborations. The ensemble has not yet announced its new tenor. It will be interesting to see how they replace Vanderburg’s generous, edgy, and intelligent singing next season.

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In the middle of a critically acclaimed production of Kaminsky/Campbell’s As One, baritone Michael Kelly comes to Chicago to join soprano Ariana Strahl and pianist Kathleen Kelly in a program that showcases 21st century art song. The repertoire comes from NewMusicShelf’s Anthology of New Music. Volume 1 of the soprano edition was curated by VAC heroine Laura Strickling; the baritone edition was curated by Kelly himself. These are outstanding, international-level musicians who are collaborating on this important project. A must see for lovers of art song. Friday at PianoForte Studios.