The Arizona Republic
Phoenix Chorale sings hymns to Homer Phoenix Chorale: ‘Mid-Century Modern’
The Phoenix Chorale won Grammy Awards for singing hymns to the Virgin Mary and Orthodox liturgical music by Rachmaninoff, but in their fall concert series, they’ll be singing the praises of … Homer Simpson?
Guest conductor James K. Bass is conducting the chorale’s fall concert, “Mid-Century Modern,” which features “Five Romantic Miniatures (from The Simpsons)” by British composer Paul Crabtree. It’s contemporary classical music set to text drawn from the long-running animated sitcom.
One of the “miniatures” is a plaintive declaration of love from Homer to his long-suffering wife, Marge.
“This goes by so quickly (in the episode), but I thought it was such an insight into the human condition that it really should be part of the wedding vows,” Crabtree said in a recent phone interview. “People should have to say to each other, ‘I need you to put up with me,’ because I thought it was just so refreshingly honest. So ‘The Simpsons’ has some profound things to say about the nature of human relationships, and I thought that this was worthy of putting into a choral setting. I think people look for profundity in places where it doesn’t really exist, and yet it’s all around them.”
In case it’s not obvious, Crabtree isn’t tongue-in-cheek at all when drawing on popular culture in his work, which is musically ambitious. There is, however, a bit of a wink in a couple spots, Bass said.
“The middle one, which has the shortest text — ‘Marge, you make the best Oct. 26-28.
Three venues. 7:30 p.m. Friday at American Lutheran Church, 17200 Del Webb Blvd., Sun City. 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 100 W. Roosevelt St., Phoenix. 3 p.m. Sunday at Camelback Bible Church, 3900 E. Stanford Drive, Paradise Valley. $35, $30 senior/military, $15 students; $5 more at the door. 602-253-2224, phoenixchorale.org.
pork chops’ — does have a little yuk-yuk moment. … The very last sound is ‘porkchopssssss,’ like a little sizzle in the pan.”
Bass is artistic director of the Long Beach Camerata Singers in California and director of choral studies at the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. He is one of four conductors auditioning to take over the Phoenix Chorale permanently after the departure of acclaimed maestro Charles Bruffy a year ago.
The concert’s theme, “Mid-Century Modern,” is a nod to the chorale’s founding in 1958 (as the Bach and Madrigal Society), but it’s also a little history lesson on the evolution of choral music. The first half is mostly classical music set to religious texts, the second showcases music, from the mid-1800s to today, inspired by more diverse sources, from personal letters to graffiti scrawled on the walls of a concentration camp.