Choral Society ready for holiday concerts

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Festive works by Mozart and Haydn, along with audience-participation in familiar carols, will set a celebratory mood at this year’s holiday performances by the Choral Society of the Hamptons on Sunday, December 14.

The concerts are scheduled at 3 and 5:30 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $30, or $10 for students under 18, available by calling (631) 204-9402, visiting www.choralhamptons.org, from the Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor, and from members of the chorus.

A traditional free reception and silent auction, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Bridgehampton Community House, will follow the second performance.

The conductor of this year’s concert will be the Choral Society’s music director, Mark Mangini, who for the last six years has been hailed for bringing out the chorus’s best singing in performances at a professional level.

This year’s soloists will be soprano Sasha Leinster, mezzo-soprano Suzanne Schwing, and tenor Gabriel Gargari. Ms. Leinster and Ms. Schwing have earned positive reviews in previous Choral Society performances; Mr. Gargari is making his East End debut. All have performed extensively in opera and the classical repertoire.

In addition, two Choral Society singers, Paul Melnyk of Montauk, who sings bass, and Suzanne Nicoletti, a soprano, also have small solo parts in the Haydn mass.

Mr. Mangini, who has a house on the North Fork and is the grandson of Alfred Scheffer, the noted Amagansett architect, describes the first work on the program, Mozart’s “Regina Coeli,” as “exuberant and lively.” One of its features, he said, is “a constant, kaleidoscopic shifting of a half-dozen themes that the chorus and soloists present in alternation.”

A second Mozart composition, “Laudate Dominum” from “Vesperae solennes de confessore,” will end the formal concert. The piece, which strikes a contemplative note, is widely considered one of Mozart’s most sublime creations.

Between the two Mozart pieces, the society will perform Haydn’s “Missa Sancti Bernardi von Offida,” also known as the “Heiligmesse” because of the Austrian hymn, “Heilig, Heilig” (“Holy, Holy”) that Haydn hid in the alto and tenor parts of the “Sanctus” section. Mr. Mangini avers that the work is known as “among the finest in all of the choral literature,” adding that it contains “a wonderful balance of solemnity and wit. The fast choral fugue is one of the finest examples of Haydn’s exuberant optimism and imaginative use of instruments.”

The “Agnus Dei” begins with a “powerful musical supplication,” Mr. Mangini said, but the mass ends with a fast series of “dynamic shifts and harmonic surprises” that make it almost a “symphonic entertainment.” The chorus has the major role.

Ms. Leinster, the soprano, is known to local audiences for her work with the Choral Society in the last few years. A high point was her performance in last year’s holiday concert in Saint-Saens’s “Christmas Oratorio.” She has been a soloist elsewhere in major works such as Bach’s “St. John Passion” and “Magnificat” and the Mozart and Faure Requiems.

Ms. Schwing, the mezzo-soprano, also was a soloist for the society in last year’s Saint-Saens oratorio. Her credits include performances in 12 languages in venues from the New York City Opera to Japan. Trained as an actress, she is a stage director and acting coach who founded the Shakespeare Workshop in Manhattan in 2004. Her most recent operatic role is Rossweisse in “Die Walkure.”

Mr. Gargari recently made his Carnegie/Weill Recital Hall debut with a recital of songs from Viennese operettas. A recent operatic role was Remendado in “Carmen.” Equally at home as an oratorio soloist, he has performed such works as Bach’s Mass in B Minor and Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb.”

As a finale, the audience will be invited to join the chorus in a selection of seasonal carols, more of which will be performed during the reception at the community house.

The Choral Society of the Hamptons, now in its 62nd year, was founded to bring notable choral works and a high standard of performance to the East End’s communities. Two years ago it performed at Lincoln Center, and a few weeks ago members were invited to perform the choral section of Mahler’s Symphony No.2 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Other Choral Society activities include a children’s chorus and the award of three scholarships a year to high school students who are planning musical careers.

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