Tired of cold, cold, cold?
The Belleville Philharmonic Chorale wants to warm you up to spring with a Celestial Spring Concert on Sunday at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Belleville.
"It'll be a picker-upper of a concert," said conductor Robert Charles Howard. "The music is lively and appealing with beautiful melodies and many references to nature and spring. It's a celebration of spring."
The concert spotlights the 24-member chorale, including seven soloists, and a chamber orchestra composed of members of the Belleville Philharmonic Orchestra.
"One of my favorites we'll be doing is 'The Last Words of David' by Randall Thompson," Howard said. "It's from the Book of Samuel. It's a vigorous and dynamic piece that gives advice on how to be a good ruler:
He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain. Alleluia. Amen.
"It's all about the benevolence of nature -- and spring."
The program includes two more spring anthems:
* "The Earth Adorned" by Waldemar Ahlen; soloists Doris Roach and Carol Werner.
"The Swedish hymn references soft winds breathing on fragrant flowers, birds singing and sunshine giving warmth and light -- and all these wonderful things coming from God," Howard said.
* "For the Beauty of the Earth" by John Rutter.
"This is new music to a popular hymn. It includes a small orchestra -- two flutes and strings."
Now that you are primed for spring, the chorale plans to knock your socks off with Franz Joseph Haydn's "Theresien Mass."
"It's fresh, bright and filled with a positive spirit," the conductor said.
The Mass was named after Maria Theresa of the Two Sicilies, empress consort of Francis II, according to concert notes. The empress herself was the soprano soloist at private performances of both "The Creation" and "The Seasons" in May 1801 at the Viennese Court.
The "Theresien Mass," written in 1799, is thought to have premiered on Sept. 8, 1799, at the Bergkirche in Eisenstadt, Austria. The Mass will feature the chorus, strings and organ.
Soloists for the chorale's presentation of "Theresien Mass" in B flat major are sopranos Robin Howard, Doris Roach and Susan Friesen; altos Barbara Compton and Theresa Schmidt; tenor Don Stogner; bass Stephen Schmidt.
"It's a longer piece, about 45 minutes long, with stings and organ. It's very uplifting."
Three of the eight soloists, who were rehearsing parts of the Mass on Tuesday at the Howards' home, were excited about their chance to shine.
Theresa Schmidt, an alto from Shiloh, has been in the chorale for nearly 15 years. "'Et Incarnatus Est' has gorgeous alto lines," she said. "And Dona Nobis Pacem" is an opportunity for altos to sing beautiful melodic lines, not static, repetitive notes that are often fillers." She also sings "Benedictus," a more solemn "but moving" piece.
Doris Roach, another 15-year chorale member from Belleville, will raise her soprano voice to the heavens in "Gloria." "It's a joyous song about resurrection. I think of it as almost a Latin 'Hallelujah Chorus.'"
Robin Howard, wife of the conductor, has been singing with the chorale for 10 years. She explained the range of emotions in the Mass: "'Et Incarnatus Est' laments the death of Christ, "Benedictus" is about blessedness and "Dona Nobis" is asking for God's blessing. "They are all beautiful songs with interesting key changes. They intertwine men's and women's voices into very wonderful harmonies."
Robert Charles Howard also had high praise for St. Paul as the concert venue. "We always love to sing there because of it's wonderful acoustics."
If you plan to attend, you might want to get there early.
"At our last Pops concert, we were prepared for 200 tables of people. There was an overflow crowd."
Next concert: Baroque in Belleville on at 7 p.m. April 12 at Philharmonic Hall, 116 N. Jackson. "I have obtained a harpsichord and it will include flute, violin and cello baroque combos." It's a fundraiser to support local food panties. A $5 donation and donations of cans of food are requested.
At a glance
What: Celestial Spring Concert, featuring Haydn's "Theresien Mass"
Who: Belleville Philharmonic Choral and Chamber Orchestra
When: 3 p.m. Sunday
Where: St. Paul United Church of Christ, 115 West B St., Belleville
Tickets: $15 adult; $12 age 55 and older and military; $7 student
Where to purchase: At the concert; in Belleville at Allison's Common Scents (618-277-2550), Peace by Piece (618-233-1519); Fletcher's Kitchen & Tap (618-239-3317); in Swansea at Accent Music (618-222-0100) and Miller Music (618-277-2002); in O'Fallon at Exeter Music (618-632-3317); online at bellevillephilharmonic.org