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Chorale starts on right note

Key Chorale will begin its 33rd season with the Sarasota Choral Festival and end with the Tomorrow’s Voices Today concert.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. October 4, 2017
 Key Chorale performs at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo
Key Chorale performs at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. Courtesy photo
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Key Chorale Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins believes in the power of the “invisible instrument,” and says his chorale will use it to uplift, empower and educate the community with its 33rd season programming.

He says his main goal when picking this year’s pieces was to include as much variety as possible.

“We want to continue to do new things but also to go back to the great masterworks,” he says. “We’re a lot more than people in long black dresses
singing music by dead people.”

Here are details on the seven main concerts that make up the 2017-2018 season.



Oct. 3, 6 and 7 at First United Methodist Church

Key Chorale is kicking off its new season with this community event, which is open to all singers high school age and older. Last year, 200 voices participated in the festival — including everyone from professional singers to people who don’t know how to read music.

In one week, these festival participants learn and perform two pieces together. Picking those pieces is always a challenge for Caulkins because he wants to choose something that’s fun and enjoyable but also accessible enough that singers of all levels can nail it in a week.

“I come into the first rehearsal and I have no idea what it’s going to sound like,” he says. “But it always works out.”

This year the singers will perform Vaughan Williams’s “Five Mystical Songs” featuring baritone Jason Burke, Schubert’s divine “Mass in G Major” and Gerald Finzi’s lush “Romance” for string orchestra.

The culminating event is the festival concert, “Mystical and Divine,” which will take place at 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at First United Methodist Church.



4 p.m., Oct. 22 at Church of the Redeemer

This performance aims to explore American roots, and it does so in a way that’s largely foreign to choral groups. American Roots will utilize music from colonial songs, music of the Shakers and even some bluegrass, which is a beloved genre for Caulkins. Music by William Billings, Aaron Copland, Kevin Siegfried, Carol Barnett and more will be performed.



4 p.m., Nov. 26 at First United Methodist Church

Grammy Award-nominated composer and conductor Dale Warland commissioned a piece for Key Chorale’s 25th anniversary, and now he’s coming back to Sarasota for two weeks to serve as guest conductor for the group’s holiday concert.

Caulkins says this is the concert he is most excited about, partially because he will get to take a break from conducting and take on the role of student.

“The Chorale is in a really good place right now, and I’m really excited to see the level that he can bring us to,” he says.



4 p.m., Feb.17 at First United Methodist Church

In this concert, Key Chorale will perform Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War,” which will feature guest artist Jeffrey Biegel performing Beethoven’s “Choral Fantasy” for piano, six soloists and chorus.



4 p.m., March 4 at Church of the Redeemer

Key Chorale’s professional choral ensemble will perform pieces by French impressionist composers Debussy, Ravel, Faure and Durufle.



Key Chorale singers perform Cirque des Voix. Courtesy photo
Key Chorale singers perform Cirque des Voix. Courtesy photo

7:30 p.m. March 23, 2 p.m. March 24 and 5 p.m. March 25

Cirque des Voix, a uniquely Sarasota collaboration between Key Chorale and Circus Arts Conservatory now in its ninth year, will get a new twist this year with the music of Danny Elfman. His work will be presented as an homage to characters in several of the most successful films he’s scored, such as “Beetlejuice,” the 1989 version of “Batman” and the 2002 version of “Spider-Man.”




April 27 at Riverview Performing Arts Center

The Chorale’s fifth annual collaboration concert with Sarasota County Schools will feature more than 200 singers including students from Booker High School, Riverview High School and Sarasota High School.

“The goal is to light the spark for a student who will make music a lifetime pursuit,” Caulkins says.

He says this year’s concert will be particularly unique because of a powerful piece by Jake Runestad, a composer and friend of his whose “Please Stay” about teen suicide was made using an atypical medium: Twitter.

Runestad started a social media campaign encouraging people who have experienced suicidal thoughts to use the hashtag #KeepLiving and tweet their reason for not following through with their plan. He then used the tweets to help create the composition.





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