Cary, NC – When people think of classical music concerts, they think of composers who worked hundreds of years ago. But at their latest show, the Concert Singers of Cary will focus on the music of a modern composer and how his music discusses themes of depression and suicide prevention.
Classical Music with Modern Topics
The Concert Singers of Cary’s “Music of Hope and Love” takes place Saturday, October 26, 2019 at the Cary Arts Center, largely featuring the music of Jake Runestad, a young composer who Concert Singers of Cary Director Nathan Leaf called a “choral rock star.”
“It’s first rate writing and very beautiful music that is also relevant to modern audiences,” Leaf said.
Leaf said Runestad is relevant because his music deals with a variety of modern topics that are difficult to discuss in plain language. This particular concert focuses on his songs about depression, including one piece titled “Please Stay.”
“All the text of the piece is made out of tweets from people who faced serious challenges but avoided suicide,” Leaf said.
Runestad was recently awarded the 2019 Raymond W. Brock Commission of the American Choral Directors Association for his piece “A Silence Haunts Me,” based on Ludwig von Beethoven’s “Heiligenstadt Testament,” a letter he wrote to his brothers when he learned that his hearing loss and eventual deafness was incurable.
“As you can imagine, for Beethoven, this was devastating, but in the letter, Beethoven says how he chose to live on and he proceeded to write more music,” Leaf said.
The Concert Singers of Cary will also be performing music from Beethoven’s life after this dark period in his life when the famous composer contemplated suicide.
“Suicide prevention is a topic hushed over and avoided in our society, because it’s very difficult to discuss,” Leaf said. “This show will be poignant and challenging and, in the end, hopefully uplifting.”
Bringing In More Musicians
Not only does the text of Runestad’s pieces speak to modern times but Leaf said the music itself will attract audiences of all kinds.
“He’s a first-rate classical composer,” Leaf said. “His harmonic language is accessible to all.”
In this show, the Concert Singers of Cary will be performing along with the Panther Creek High School choir, including joining together for pieces such as Runestad’s “The Hope of Loving.” Panther Creek students will also be performing on their own.
“Brad Bensen at Panther Creek is one of the best teachers around and they have a great choral program,” Leaf said.
Additionally, the Concert Singers of Cary will be performing with musicians from the Mallarmé Chamber Players, a professional music ensemble from Durham.
“It’s challenging. Everyone needs to be on the same page from the get-go,” Leaf said.
The Concert Singers of Cary perform at the Cary Arts Center on Saturday, October 26, 2019 at 7:30 PM.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of the Concert Singers of Cary and Mallarmé Chamber Players