Rutter's Magnificat
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2011 Winter Concert:
Rutter's Magnificat
...and The John Rutter Carols: O Holy Night

John Rutter

Saturday, December 10 | 7:30 pm
Sunday, December 11| 3:00 pm

Pre-concert talk with Gary Boerckel
45 minutes prior to each performance

Zion Lutheran Church | 5th and Market, Sunbury

Special Guest Soloist, Jill Gardner
…and the SVC Orchestra

Co-sponsors: M&T Bank;
Coldwell-Banker Penn One Real Estate
Underwriters: Caryn & Francis Powers

John Rutter's Magnificat could not exactly be called a Christmastide piece, but it does have strong associations with the Virgin Mary, and it has a musical energy and rhythm that has a wonderfully festive spirit. As the composer himself explains:

"The passage from St Luke (Chapter 1, verses 46-55) known as the Magnificat has always been one of the most familiar and well-loved of scriptural texts. It is a poetic outpouring of praise, joy and trust in God, ascribed by Luke to the Virgin Mary on learning that she was to give birth to the Christ. Musical settings of it abound, though surprisingly few of them since J. S. Bach's give the text extended treatment.

"I had long wished to write an extended Magnificat, but was not sure how to approach it until I found my starting point in the association of the text with the Virgin Mary. In countries such as Spain, Mexico and Puerto Rico, feast days of the Virgin are joyous opportunities for people to take to the streets and celebrate with singing, dancing and processions. These images of outdoor celebration were I think somewhere in my mind as I wrote, although I was not fully conscious of the fact until afterwards."

John Rutter is widely recognized as the leading choral composer of his generation. He is also a distinguished editor and arranger of choral music, as well as a renowned conductor. He was born in London and received his first musical education as a chorister at Highgate School. He went on to study music at Clare College, Cambridge, where he wrote his first published compositions and conducted his first recording while still a student. From 1975 to 1979 he was the Director of Music at Clare College, whose choir he directed in many broadcasts and recordings. After he gave up the Cambridge post to allow more time for composition, he founded the Cambridge Singers as a professional chamber choir dedicated to recording, and he now divides his time between composition and conducting.

Rutter's writing career has embraced both large and small-scale choral works, orchestral and instrumental pieces, a piano concerto, two children's operas, music for television, and specialist writing for such groups as the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble and the King's Singers. He is also well known for co-editing four volumes of the Carols for Choirs series with Sir David Willcocks. The first performance of Rutter's Magnificat took place in Carnegie Hall in New York in May 1990.


Meet the Soloist

Jill Gardner

Jill Gardner, Soprano

Noted for her "effortlessly produced, rich voice" (Opera News), American soprano Jill Gardner is swiftly establishing herself among today's leading operatic heroines. This "powerhouse soprano" (Syracuse New Times) continues to garner national praise for her "sparkling personality" (Coral Gables Gazette), her "lustrous, golden soprano and riveting stage presence" (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) and for "her commitment, passion and ability to convey vocally the slightest nuance of emotion, making for gripping theater" (Opera News). Equally praised for her acting as well as her singing, Opera News observed of her Boston Lyric Opera 2010 performances of Tosca, "Soprano Jill Gardner, whose voice was fresh and focused, undertook the title role as if it were newly written. There was little of the conventional grand diva in her approach, and her character was all the more human for it.”

Over the past few seasons, the young soprano marked her Lyric Opera of Chicago debut performing Nedda in I Pagliacci and covering Mimi in La Bohème, her Florida Grand Opera debut as Musetta in La Bohème, her Boston Lyric Opera debut as Mimi in La Bohème, her Madison Opera debut as Marguerite in Faust, as well as performing Countess Charlotte Malcolm in Sondheim's A Little Night Music in her debut with Hawaii Opera Theater where she returned last season as Helmwige in Die Walküre. In concert, she made her Kennedy Center Debut with the Washington Chorus, under the baton of Julian Wachner, performed Beethoven's 9th Symphony and Vaughan William's Serenade to Music with the Syracuse Symphony, Brahms' Requiem with the Binghamton Philharmonic and Verdi's Requiem with the Tower Arts Series of Dallas' Highland Park United Methodist Church under the baton of Craig Jessop. In the summers of 2005 and 2006, Ms. Gardner was a member of the prestigious Young American Artist Program at the Glimmerglass Opera. During this tenure, she created the role of Madame Loiseau in the world premiere of Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good, which was recorded on the Naxos Label.

For the 2010-2011 season, Ms. Gardner made her celebrated return to Boston Lyric Opera in the title role of Tosca as well as made her company debuts with Arizona Opera in the role of Liù in Turandot, Opera Grand Rapids in her role debut of Manon in Manon Lescaut and Eugene Opera as Musetta in La Bohème.  This season also marked Ms. Gardner's role debut of Leonora in Verdi's Il Trovatore with Piedmont Opera. The upcoming 2011-2012 season currently includes her return to Arizona Opera and Tri-Cities Opera in the title role of Puccini's Madama Butterfly and her debut with Michigan Opera Theater as Nedda in I Pagliacci.  On the concert stage, she makes her debut with the Wichita Symphony in Beethoven's Mass in C Major.

A frequent soloist with the Susquehanna Valley Chorale, Ms. Gardner has been heard over the past four seasons in such varied repertoire as Brahms’ Requiem, Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and Hodie, Verdi’s Requiem and Rutter’s Requiem.

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