UC Alumni Chorus to Perform California Mission Music


San Francisco's old Mission Dolores as it appeared in the late 19th century
San Francisco’s old Mission Dolores as it appeared in the late 19th century

Conducted by Dr. Mark Sumner and accompanied by William García Ganz, the University of California Alumni Chorus presents a concert of Music from the California Missions at San Francisco’s Mission Dolores Basilica on Sunday, April 6 at 4:00 p.m. Also participating in the program are members of Los Arribeños de San Francisco, a group of musicians expert in the performance practice of the period of the California missions. The mass service of Juan Bautista Sancho’s Misa de Los Angeles serves as the framework for a program featuring gems of the Mexican Baroque by Antonio de Salazar, Juan Gutiérrez de Padilla, and arrangements of traditional hymns and sacred works of the period. The concert will also include instrumental folk music from the 18th- and 19th-century mission scene and traditional Spanish songs of California.

Members of the UC Alumni Chorus and Los Arribeños de San Francisco will be touring Colonial Mexico this coming June and this music will provide the core repertoire for that tour. “Having produced and performed a California Mission Music CD with the Los Angeles vocal group Zephyr; and having performed on the Grammy Award-winning Padilla: Sun of Justice CD with the Los Angeles Chamber Singers: Cappella ensemble seven years ago,” says Mark Sumner, “I am very excited to share this music both with the UC Alumni Chorus in Berkeley and with the audience we hope to attract to the Basilica in San Francisco. And I think we are assured of a strong, positive reception in Mexico this June.”

Mission Dolores has always had a central place in the religious, civic, and cultural life of San Francisco. Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded June 29, 1776, under the direction of Father Junipero Serra and is both the oldest original intact Mission in California and the oldest building in San Francisco.

Los Arribeños de San Francisco
Los Arribeños de San Francisco

Los Arribeños is a performing unit of the California Fandango Project (CFP), founded by Lance Beeson in 2011. For years, Lance was musical director of the Calicanto Singers and the current band includes three members of that group. The purpose of the CFP is to present the musical and dancing heritage of California, mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries, by performing the authentic material of the day in historically correct clothing. The goal is to bring that old music to life in the ears, heads, and hearts of Californians so they may better understand the unique cultural heritage of California. Members of Los Arribeños participating in this concert and the UC Alumni Chorus tour are Lance Beeson, Marilyn Merlino, Ronald Cohen, Anne Boersma, and Catherine Johns.

Admission to the concert is by suggested donation of $15 for adults, $10 for students, seniors, and disabled and $6 for students. Tickets may be purchased online at tickets.berkeley.edu, http://ucacapril2014.eventbrite.com, at the door, or in advance at 510-642-3880. (Phone sales end at 12:30 p.m., Friday April 4, 2014.) For more information go to the UC Alumni Chorus website, www.ucac.net.

Founded in 1985, The UC Alumni Chorus is a thriving 120 member ensemble composed of Cal alumni, alumni of other UC campuses, and UC Berkeley faculty, staff and graduate students. The chorus performs a wide variety of music, ranging from 16th-century chamber choral works to traditional folk music and 20th-century musical theater.

Touring has become part of the Alumni Chorus tradition, giving members the chance to sing for and meet other music lovers around the globe. In the spring of 2012, a group from the Chorus toured Cuba, enjoying a cultural exchange with choirs from Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Santiago de Cuba. Previous tours were to Australia, England, the Czech Republic and Hungary, China, the Baltics (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, and Russia), and South America (Uruguay and Argentina). In the summer of 2009, the Chorus was invited to participate in the International Choral Festival in Missoula, Montana. The ensemble has twice performed together with the Claremont Chorale, both in Claremont, California and in the Bay Area, and this spring will enjoy a similar exchange with the Santa Barbara Chorale.

Written by Jonathan Harris