Blanche Moyse Chorale presents ‘Clara, Robert, and Uncle Brahms’

BRATTLEBORO — The Blanche Moyse Chorale presents a selection of choral works from the German Romantic Period, under the title “Clara, Robert, and Uncle Brahms” - that is, Clara Schumann, Robert Schumann, and Johannes Brahms.

The concert will be performed twice: on Friday, March 15, at 7:30 p.m., at Next Stage in Putney, and on Sunday, March 17, at 2:30 p.m., at the Brattleboro Music Center Auditorium.

This concert program is, to some extent, a family affair. Clara and Robert Schumann were a married couple. Johannes Brahms was a family friend who would look after the Schumann children when Clara and Robert were off concertizing.

The children addressed Brahms as “Uncle,” but the story of a romantic affair between Clara and Johannes is adequately documented elsewhere.

The program is built around two meditative works by Brahms: Nänie (Funeral Song) and Schicksalslied (Song of Destiny), both accompanied by piano. Nänie treats the inevitability of death and the healing role of song, while Schicksalslied mulls the random effects of fate in our lives.

Contrast to these relatively somber topics is provided by three lighter song groups: Brahms's Four Songs for Women's Choir, accompanied by harp and two horns; Robert Schumann's Five Hunting Songs for Men's Choir, accompanied by four horns; and Clara Schumann's Three Songs for Mixed Choir, sung a cappella.

The Blanche Moyse Chorale, a program of the Brattleboro Music Center, is an auditioned chamber chorus of some 30 voices drawn from the Brattleboro area and beyond.

Since 2007, director Mary Westbrook-Geha has brought to the Chorale not only her expertise in vocal technique but also her strong background in a wide variety of choral music at Boston's Emmanuel Church, the Marlboro Music Festival, the New England Bach Festival and elsewhere.

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