Musica Sacra Announces its 2023-24 Season

Arts & Culture

Musica Sacra reaches higher this season to offer events that are passionate and immersive. “Beyond just hearing the music,” says Artistic Director Steven Phillips, “the audience will experience its power and be riveted by what they see and hear.” Phillips brings vision and adventure to his new role. He holds a Bachelor of Music in organ performance, a Master of Arts in Choral Conducting, and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies. In addition, he has done postgraduate studies in piano, composition, and jazz improvisation. Steven is a versatile artist with several recordings to his credit as performer, composer, arranger, conductor, and producer. He works in classical, jazz, and popular styles, and serves as Director of Music for First Presbyterian Church, Sarasota, where his piano and organ improvisations regularly delight attenders.  The first concert, New Beginnings, will be performed on Friday, October 27. Exploring themes of a new day, a new song, and a new journey, the program creates a tapestry of music by Monteverdi, Franck, Paulus, Jenkins, Thompson, and other greats. Highlighting the evening is Bach’s masterful Cantata 140: Sleepers Wake, performed by the choir, chamber orchestra with concertmaster Marcus Ratzenboeck, soprano soloist Stephanie Jabre, bass Jesse V. Martin, and tenor Matthew Jarvis.  A Celtic Christmas is the colorful second concert, presented on Friday, December 8. The 50-voice choir, dancers, soloists, and folk instruments will bring listeners into a magical world, seeing the Christmas season through Celtic eyes. Collaborators in this annual event, now in its seventh year, are. fast-rising Palm Beach folk stars The Lubben Brothers, the First Presbyterian Choir, and acclaimed local bagpiper Kevin Weigand. To be performed on Friday, March 8, Chant Re-Imagined spans many traditions, including Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Native American, African, and Indonesian. According to Phillips, chant is an ancient art form that opens its performers and hearers to deep contemplative places within. Listeners will hear this ancient heart music in its original form, in addition to experiencing layers of sound that include percussion, strings, wind instruments, and pulsing rhythms. The brilliant duo, Modern Marimba, is featured in the event, with its mallet-wielding founders Tihda Vongkoth and Steph Davis.  American Spirit, on Friday, May 17, caps the season with a burst of American creativity and vision. The choir and orchestra will join to present works by Aaron Copland, Howard Hanson, Gwyneth Walker, and others, set to words by Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes. Featured pianist Glenn Priest will give a rousing centennial performance of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and guest artist Maicy Powell of West Coast Black Theater Troupe will join for a triptych of spirituals that embody the uniquely American hope of freedom for all. Ms. Powell will also perform Amanda Gorman’s now-famous inaugural poem, The Hill We Climb. All concerts begin at 7:00 p.m. and are held at First Presbyterian Church, 2050 Oak Street. The church’s fine acoustics, downtown location, and ample parking make it an ideal performance venue. Tickets and more information on the 2023-24 Musica Sacra season are available at the website: MusicaSacraSarasota.org. Tickets are $35 for general seating and $90 for a three-concert season pass. In addition, admission to A Celtic Christmas is by voluntary donation, with a recommended donation of $20 per person and a $50 family maximum. 

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