August marks the start of the 100th season for the Vallejo Choral Society. This enduring community chorus—with Benicians comprising half its membership—begins rehearsals August 30 for its centennial season, “Passages.”
Vallejo Choral performs repertoire from all parts of the world, spanning the great European choral masterpieces and the earliest indigenous works, and songs in more than a dozen languages. For the 100th season, the society will produce three concerts—held in December of 2017 and March and June of 2018 at venues in Benicia and Vallejo—of choral work by composers including Vivaldi, Victoria, Bruckner, Gjeilo, Britten, Tchaikovsky, Pärt, Duruflé, Monteverdi, Bortniansky and Fauré. The June season finale features the luminous Lauridsen requiem Lux Æterna.
In addition to producing three concert performances each year, this non-profit arts organization sponsors a children's choir and holds a spring vocal workshop and an annual fall retreat. The group also performed at events such as the USS San Francisco Memorial Ceremony at Lands End in San Francisco earlier this year, and will perform the Visions of the Wild event in Vallejo next month.
Five years ago, when the board of directors hired Andrew Brown as artistic director, the focus turned to a more challenging repertoire. As board president Laura Pyles described it, "That meant stepping out of our comfort zone with respect to languages and the complexity of the music. We took the choir up a notch in terms of our musicianship and have become a very accomplished choir. That change has redefined who we are."
While in recent years the Vallejo Choral Society has held its concerts at First Presbyterian in Vallejo, this past year it began presenting its Saturday evening concert in Benicia at the historic St. Paul's Church downtown on the corner of First and J Streets. It was a packed house at May's concert “Promised Land: A Celebration of the Spiritual,” at which the society's Campanelli Children's Choir performed their own short set and joined the adult choir for two songs.
It's an undeniable fact that singing in a choir improves health and happiness, and you meet the nicest people. Benicia native Barb Partelow can vouch for that. At a Vallejo Choral Society rehearsal in 1965, she met a handsome baritone named Bob, and the two married and sang together in beautiful harmony for almost five decades. This choir is a sanctuary for its members. "It’s where I come to be, to breath, to find peace and harmony," Pyles said. "At times you’ll hit these chords that are so transcendent, the room just rings with the beauty of the music. It’s quite moving."
All are welcome to join the Vallejo Choral Society, and no audition is required. Rehearsals for the new season begin August 30 and will take place Wednesdays at 7pm at Springbrook Masonic Temple in Vallejo. For more information, visit vallejochoral.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.