Cappella SF presents a concert Sunday night called “Sirens: Songs from the Bay“, with a large work by Mason Bates as its centerpiece. Artistic Director Ragnar Bohlin says that there are also three works by singers in the ensemble (Elliott Incarnción, Elizabeth Kimball, and Clayton Moser,) and music of Villa Lobos an arrangement by former Chanticleer singer Ben Jones.
There’s more information about the concert at the Cappella SF website.
“I heard “Sirens” being premiered premiered by Chanticleer ten years ago,” Bohlin says, “and I was blown away by this music. It’s really a masterpiece of our time. A big piece, six movements, 30 minutes of music, they’re in five different languages, we’re singing in Greek, in Quechua, in Italian, German and English. And that was the seed idea for the program.” It’s for 12 parts, and each of the movements has a different take on a persuasive, alluring song. The bookending movements are in Greek, and tell of Odysseus and his crew, who have to tie themselves to the mast and put wax in their ears to not be lured to the rocky shore. “The second movement is Die Lorelei… It’s based on a German tradition of a nymph calling fishermen out on the river Rhine. It’s a poem written by Heinrich Heine in the 19th Century. So again, it’s about something that lures us in a dangerous way, in a detrimental way.” There’s a section setting an Italian sonnet that likens the stars to angels, who guide travelers. There are mysterious and magical voices telling of the indigenous South American people known as the Quechua, and also, the famed invitation from Jesus to join him. “The fifth movement is ‘Book of Matthew’. As all these movements, the harmonies are just so beautiful and lush. This is the text in the Bible where Jesus tells his disciples, ‘Cast your nets away, and come fishing with me. I’ll teach you to fish for men.’”