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Spring Concert, 2013

“Poetic License”
Of the bundle of 14 songs we heard at First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington Sunday evening, all but one were composed within the past 50 years or so. Cantilena’s different-stepping “Poetic License” presented new and unfamiliar (to me, at least) choral pieces. The newest of these fairly new works came from a commission; it was the first performance of Scott Wheeler’s setting of “Jabberwocky.” All this made for quite a bit of welcome freshness. And, I hasten to add, from start to finish, this little bundle of a program was exceptionally well-paced, even the intermission kept in step.

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Spring Concert, 2012

“Making a Mess”
Cantilena, a women’s chorale under the direction of Allegra Martin, performed an entertaining, and in many places, humorously light Sunday evening concert for its Arlington audience at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church on May 6th. Although the title and theme of this concert was “Making a Mess!”, its demands for a volunteer ensemble ironically required a high level of musical precision both in terms of rhythmic syncopation and entrances, as well as harmonic intonation — contrary to the philosophy of the program’s centerpiece and raison d’être, Why I Pity the Woman Who Never Spills. Set to a poem by Joan Wolf Prefontaine, the text celebrates a sensually word-“smeared,” poetic antidote to every woman’s perfectionist grappling with her inner “Stepford Wife” while imaginatively supported by a bluesy and truly inspired musical setting for women’s chorus by composer Elizabeth Alexander who states, “I’m not sure there’s a woman anywhere who hasn’t experienced the pressure to act, look, sound, and perform flawlessly…” That is precisely the pressure these ensemble members had to have been under given the challenging nature of the program they tackled with commendable competency.

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Fall Concert, 2011

“An American Christmas”
Cantilena, a women's chorus directed by Allegra Martin, provided a delightful start to the holiday season with its concert, “An American Christmas,” performed Sunday, Dec. 4, at First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington. The program balanced lesser-known seasonal gems with fresh arrangements of familiar favorites, and featured works by North American composers of the past 150 years, many of them from the Boston area. The selections ranged from a setting of the 15th-century carol “There Is No Rose,” by Canadian Eleanor Daley, to the premiere of a carol written for Cantilena by director emeritus Kenneth Seitz, a resident of Woburn.

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Spring Concert, 2010

“Music about Mothers, from the Divine, to the Deranged” Such was the title of the program on Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 9) by Cantilena, under the direction of Allegra Martin, performing at the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church in Arlington; Joshua T. Lawton, organist at the First Congregational Church in Natick, was the competent piano accompanist. Cantilena was originally founded in 1968 as the Cambridge Chorale. A dozen years later it became a women’s chorus under the direction of Kenneth Seitz, (who stepped down last year), but the name change did not occur until 2000. The chorus now numbers about 30 and focuses on music originally written (not arranged) for women’s voices. This is Allegra Martin’s first season as director, and programming is her strong suit. Instead of a “holiday concert” this past winter, she concentrated on music of Scandinavian composers’ rich choral tradition in a program of “Northern Lights.”

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Spring Concert, 2004

"As the soothing voices softly filled the concert hall, the women’s chorus Cantilena seemed to be beckoning me to leave my hectic day behind and be transported to a place of peace and serenity. The Lake Isle of Innisfree by Eleanor Daley was my lovely introduction to this talented group of 28 singers, who were as gifted at singing the gorgeous opening unison of this song as they were confident in singing tuneful multi-part harmony, or more challenging, tonally and rhythmically complex pieces in the rest of their Spring, 2004 concert, entitled The Echoing Green, Music from the British Isles and Canada. Their voices are beautiful, their blend superb....."

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Spring Concert, 1998

"The Cambridge Chorale's Spring Concert was a welcome diversion on a dark and rainy Sunday afternoon.... During the concert Mr. Seitz preceded each selection with a few brief comments that were very helpful to the listener in undertanding the background and cultural context of the music. As appropriate, he included a quick sketch of the composer's life and the circumstances under which the music was composed. These remarks revealed the care and thought that he puts into the programs, and were especially useful in this program, where there was a lot more to the music than the titles of the works might imply. It should also be noted that other Chorale concerts have featured original music, including some by Mr. Seitz, and I look forward to hearing more of that at future concerts...."

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Holiday Concert, 1998

"The Cambridge Chorale's annual Holiday Concert always offers listeners a chance to hear music that is a departure from traditional Christmas programming. A chorus of about thirty women singers, the Chorale performs twice a year at the First Parish Church in Arlington. Their director, Kenneth Seitz, makes a point of choosing music written expressly for higher voices, and has a flair for creating cohesive and entertaining programs that are both accessible and challenging for the audience. Sunday's program features an interesting variety of composers spanning almost 500 years, from Palestrina to Peter Maxell Davies and Mr. Seitz himself as well...."

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