June 06, 2017

Set Sail with "A Sea Symphony"

Opening weekend is always a favorite when the Grant Park Chorus joins the orchestra for their first concert of the summer. This year will be no exception.

Last performed at the Festival in 2005 is Ralph Vaughan Williams' symphonic masterpiece A Sea Symphony, based on Walt Whitman's celebrated poetry collection, Leaves of Grass. Soprano Sara Jakubiak and baritone David John Pike, who made his Festival debut last year in The Epic of Gilgamesh, join the Chorus.

"It's unusual to hear A Sea Symphony in the States, as it's rarely performed—yet when it is, listeners and musicians alike marvel and wonder why it's not done more often," said Christopher Bell, who has been preparing the chorus on this work since late May. "It's both dramatic and melodic."

"It's a gorgeous work, with timely and human messages of universality and transcendence," agreed Pike, who looks forward to his return to the Festival. "In addition to a rapturous duet with Sara Jakubiak, one of the best moments for the soloists will be the third movement when we can sit back and listen to the fabulous Grant Park Chorus as they conjure up the stormy seas."

Audiences will be swept up in this ocean voyage, which serves as a metaphor for an individual's journey of life. The powerful tone and virtuosic dexterity of the chorus and soloists, coupled with Vaughan Williams' sumptuous music and Walt Whitman's lyrical poetry, make this a concert not to be missed.

The Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus perform A Sea Symphony on June 16 and 17.