Saturday March 2, 2013

BENNINGTON -- On Sunday afternoon, March 3, at 3:30 p.m., the vocal artistry of Bennington’s own Kerry Ryer-Parke, soprano, and Katie Beck, mezzo-soprano, will be showcased at the Old First Church in Old Bennington, through their performance of Bach Cantatas 35 and 52, assisted by a chamber orchestra drawn from local talent, and the Choir of the Old First Church. Under the direction of Old First’s recently appointed music director / organist, Charles Olegar, the program will also feature several Bach solo organ pieces. While open to the public without admission charge, the audience will be encouraged to help defray costs through a free-will offering.

Each of the two cantatas is a multi-section work written for solo voice and orchestral instruments, No. 35, "Spirit and Soul are bewildered" for alto (Beck), and No. 52, "O thou deceitful world" for soprano (Ryer-Parke). Cantata 35 is also distinguished by the extensive concerto-like role assigned to the organ, which Olegar will be playing as he directs from the keyboard. Cantata 52 has as its opening "sinfonia," the first movement of Brandenburg Concerto No. 1, featuring a trio of oboes, with strings.

Soprano Kerry Ryer-Parke, an Artist Associate in Voice at Williams College, is celebrated for musical versatility that allows her to function as a true "cross-over" artist, being as comfortable in the popular music arena as she is in concert and Early Music forums. A frequent soloist, she has appeared with many of the Northeast’s instrumental and choral ensembles. As a pedagogue, Ms. Ryer-Parke has directed the Bennington Children’s Chorus since 1994, and the Bennington Voice Workshops since 2002, along with serving on the faculties of Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts, the New School of Music, and the Sonatina School of Music, in addition to her position at Williams College.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Beck received her initial vocal training as a member of Kerry Ryer-Parke’s Bennington Children’s Chorus, displaying at an early age the remarkable talent that brings her to this inaugural "Musick and Song at Old First Church" musicale. A recent graduate of the Crane School of Music, Ms. Beck has already assembled a number of impressive "front of career" credentials in opera, art song, and oratorio repertoire, attracting the attention of a number of high-profile vocal mentors, including Christine Brewer and Stephanie Blythe, along with conductors recognizing her enormous gifts.

Observing that "Bach wrote all of his incomparably great music to, in his words, ‘the sole glory of God,’" Olegar describes the March 3 event as appropriate to its church setting, with the congregation participating in Psalm-reading and singing two of Bach’s congregational chorales, along with short prayers led by Rev. Dr. Kenneth Clarke, Minister of the Old First Church. "A musical event such as this might be construed as being ‘all about Bach,’" states Mr. Olegar, "But I would submit that Bach himself intended his music to serve a higher, worshipful end, so we at Old First Church wish to follow suit."

The Old First Church is located in Old Bennington, on Monument Ave. at the intersection of Vermont Route 9. The concert is free and open to the public.