St. Paul’s singers, professionals perform original songs

  • The St. Paul's School's Madrigal Singers —Courtesy of St. Paul's School

  • The St. Paul’s School’s Madrigal Singers Courtesy of St. Paul’s School

  • The St. Paul’s School’s Madrigal Singers will be joined by the Arneis String Quartet and professional soloists for “The Raven: The Lighter Side of White.” Courtesy of St. Paul’s School

  • Arneis String Quartet will be part of the ensemble. Courtesy of St. Paul’s School

Monitor staff
Wednesday, April 11, 2018

St. Paul’s School student singers and professional musicians will come together Friday to present an evening of original music compositions.

Nick White, the school’s director of chapel music, has written two segments to the show called The Raven: The Lighter Side of White. The first half will be “The Raven Consort,” which features lyrics based on Edgar Allen Poe’s poems. The second half is “On Dreams Alone.”

White composed music to accompany poems by Poe, Edward Lear, Dante Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Robert Bridges, Arthur O’Shaughnessy and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

“The Raven” was a commissioned work that White began working on just weeks after arriving at St. Paul’s in 2011 for a concert series based in Washington, D.C. It was performed in 2013 in D.C. and then by the school.

Since then, White said he expanded the arrangement, which is about 30 minutes long, for a larger collaboration of the school’s student choir – the Madrigal Singers – accompanied by the Arneis String Quartet from Boston, six professional soloists, and himself on piano.

The soloists are soprano Emily Noel, soprano Jessica Cooper, countertenor Roger Isaacs, tenor Ryland Angel, baritone Harris Ipock and bass Mark Cleveland. Three of the soloists were part of the original “Raven” performers.

Like Poe’s poems, the songs have a lot of emotional movement and can feel shadowy and rather melancholy.

“On Dreams Alone” is a piece White began working on about 25 years ago while working in Abilene, Texas. He said he was thumbing through poems in the library and discovered some lyrics written by Fitzgerald. It was an early work, very romantic in nature.

The piece White wrote to accompany those lyrics are the opening movement of “On Dreams Alone,” which shares the same name.

“That for me is a standout for the second half,” White said. He explained that it has an “unabashedly romantic” feel.

Over time he added more compositions with poetic lyrics to form the drama. The theatrical piece (though there is no acting) reflects on life and dreams and love. This is the first time it will be performed in full.

White said that if people “have a love of poetry and if they have a love of drama” they should attend.

The show is appropriate for younger audience members.

The performance will be held Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Paul’s School music building. Doors will open at 7 p.m. and White suggested arriving early since seating is limited to 150 people. There will be an intermission between “The Raven” and “On Dreams Alone.”

Like other Keiser concerts, the performance is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit sps.edu/keiser.

(Sarah Pearson can be reached at features@cmonitor.com, 369-3324 or on Twitter @SarahEPearson.)