This week is more about connecting with friends and family, contemplating gratitude, and consuming vittles than imbibing music, but Oregon nevertheless offers its usual bounty of concerts this week if you know where to look.

Lucas Pitts stars in the Portland Ballet’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Photo: Blaine Truitt Covert.

One place is in a dance performance: the Portland Ballet’s annual live-music enhanced Thanksgiving show this time features John Clifford’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Friday-Sunday at Portland State’s Lincoln Performance Hall. Ken Selden leads the PSU Orchestra and opera singers in Mendelssohn’s ever-sparkling score, accompanying an 80+ member cast in one of the season’s most reliably entertaining events.

An Unforgettable Nat King Cole Christmas features Chicago/Broadway musical star Evan Tyrone Martin reminding us why Cole was one of the last century’s finest singers. Friday-Sunday at Portland’s Winningstad Theatre.

Evan Tyrone Martin covers Nat King Cole this weekend.

Speaking of Portland State, a free recital Tuesday at Lincoln Hall celebrating the PSU String Scholarship Fund features some of the city’s finest classical musicians, including cellist Hamilton Cheifetz, violinist Tomas Cotik, pianist Julia Lee and PSU students playing Vivaldi, Bach, Gliere, Handel, Popper, Granados, Rachmaninoff and Beethoven.


Resonance Ensemble: amplifying ‘Hidden Voices’

Vocal ensemble's collaborative concert features musical responses to experiences marked by racism and resistance


It’s a testimony to Portland choral group Resonance Ensemble’s sense of community that they collaborate with and share their concerts with other artists—sometimes several. At Resonance’s October 21 Hidden Voices concert, the choir shared the spotlight with journalist-turned-poet S. Renee Mitchell, BRAVO Youth Orchestra, and local gospel choir Kingdom Sound. Together, they performed music by a pair of composers both born in 1980: Australian Melissa Dunphy and Resonance’s own Damien Geter.

“Remain Hopeful”

Reverend Terry McCray-Hill welcomed the packed, restless audience to Northeast Portland’s Bethel A.M.E. Church, where the mix of Resonance enthusiasts and regular Bethel churchgoers made for a gathering more diverse—racially and religiously as well as across age and class boundaries—than most Portland concerts, an integrated solidarity which has become especially important in these fractured times. “I dream a world,” McCray-Hill said, “where hidden voices can find a comfortable place to scream out who they are.”

Kingdom Sound gospel choir performed at Resonance Ensemble’s ‘Hidden Voices.’ Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Resonance Ensemble’s founder and Artistic Director Katherine FitzGibbon described the group’s commitment “to presenting powerful performances of music that will, hopefully, make change happen in the world.” This season—their tenth—continues Resonance’s tradition of socially conscious music making, each concert spotlighting timely issues: upcoming concerts focus on women’s voices and the health challenges of childhood and parenthood, and Hidden Voices focused on experiences marked by racism and resistance.

“Today we celebrate artists of color, composers of color,” FitzGibbon continued. “We have some music today that is really challenging; I think music should challenge us,” she said, warning the audience of the presence of violence in the music, and closing with a promise of hope. “What a gesture it is to remain hopeful.”

She’s right: collaboration, consistency, and commitment are all acts of resistance against complacency, a way of meeting challenges and overcoming them.

Pearls of Great Price

It was wonderful, in a very churchy sort of way, to hear the kids of BRAVO Youth Orchestra, Portland’s El Sistema-aligned non-profit music program, play two pieces by American composer Florence Price. Her compositional voice—distinctly American, a little Ivesy—shone through in the orchestra’s enthusiastic performance of Adoration and the first movement of her Mozarty Symphony 1 in E minor, the string orchestra anchored by a strong, vocal tone in cello and bass.

BRAVO Youth Orchestra strings performed at Resonance Ensemble’s ‘Hidden Voices.’ Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

The Kingdom Sound octet, led by Minister Derrick McDuffey, performed a total of five songs—nearly half the concert. H.T. Burleigh’s arrangement of the coded Jordan/Ohio spiritualDeep River” was one of two songs they sang with Resonance. On Patrick Lundy’s “Even Me,” the male trio sang high harmonies up in countertenor territory; when they sang low later they sounded like the Oregon Symphony’s splendid trombones. All eight voices were individually powerful, their ecstatic sonic blend not a matter of eliminating variance but of retaining each signer’s unique vocal quality while balancing all into beautifully tuned chords and a finely sculpted expressivity.

At the end of Donnie McClurkin’s “All We Ask,” soprano Jamelia Boney, tenor Emmanuel Henreid, and Saeeda Wright built up a complex, interwoven network of dazzling solos on the line “all we ask is teach us love indeed.” When they were done, I swear I heard an older man nearby whisper, with deep reverence, “shiiiiiiit!” Not too many choirs in town could come this close to stealing a show from Resonance Ensemble, which Kingdom Singers nearly did with the closing three songs, Charles Tindley’s “Stand By Me” and “The Storm is Passing Over,” followed by the Ben E. King version of “Stand By Me,” a promise and a challenge. Let’s hope they perform together again.

Kingdom Sound gospel octet sang at Resonance Ensemble’s ‘Hidden Voices.’ Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Taking Away Names, Taking Away Sins

As FitzGibbon was introducing composer and bass-baritone (and Arts Watch contributor) Damien Geter—at the start of the concert, just before he and Resonance performed his arrangement of “There’s a Man Goin’ Round”—she teased him a bit, saying, “we’re sharing him with Portland Opera; he rushed over here from a rehearsal!” That massive voice of Geter’s is no stranger to Portland audiences, and I’ll admit to being a part-time fanboy: just in the last year or so I’ve gone to hear him sing David Lang and Christopher Corbell, having been quite taken with his turn as the Devil on a Cascadia Composers concert some time back.

Composer Damien Geter sings with Resonance Ensemble. Photo: Kenton Waltz.

His opening solo was rich with heavy vibrato, a bold operatic tone, nothing folksy about it, a well-trained voice meant to fill a concert hall, intimidatingly beautiful in the small church, supported by the choir’s voices rising up on Geter’s dense, colorful chords. “There’s A Man Goin’ Round” is both art and artful warning, a catchy tune advising the hearer of trouble and danger afoot; it also serves as a dirge for all those whose names were — literally, brutally — taken them from them by The Man. I heard a few folks humming somberly along nearby, a melding of performer and audience that would continue with S. Renee Mitchell’s poem and recur throughout the concert.

FitzGibbon described Geter’s “Agnus Dei” as “the only a cappella movement” of his An African-American Requiem, which will ultimately consist of twenty movements for choir, orchestra, and vocal quartet. The complete symphonic choral work, modeled partially on Britten’s War Requiem and described by Geter as “a commentary on the war of racism,” will merge the traditional Latin Requiem with a variety of texts from other sources (civil rights activists, spirituals, Eric Garner’s dying words). Resonance performed Dominick DiOrio’s The Visible World—which uses the same technique, which Gabriel Kahane calls“palimpsest” —this summer. It’s one of the best things about choral music: its capacity for layering levels of meaning across time, space, genre, language.

The “Agnus Dei” movement was all in Latin, the familiar “qui tollis peccata mundi” (“who takes away the sin of the world”) vibrating through Geter’s call-and-response melodies and contemporary choral harmonic sense (big open chords, tight close dissonances), with bits of tricky imitative counterpoint worthy of Haydn. This was my first time hearing Geter the composer, and I was pleased to discover that he writes the way he sings: with dramatic, powerful tenderness. I can’t wait to hear the whole thing in 2020.

“Drink up, DREAMers”

As a composer, I often go to concerts just to hear new composers. I like Resonance Ensemble anyways, and if all they ever sang was Samuel Barber I’d still be at every concert, but their commitment to living composers is an inspiring example of their “programming with purpose.”

Resonance’s West Coast premiere of with Melissa Dunphy’s eight part American DREAMers dominated the second half of Hidden Voices. After shimmery majory-minory humming on the word “dreammmmmmm,” the choir moved through texts by five poets affected by the difficulties of immigration to the U.S.

American DREAMers (the title refers to the DREAMer movement) showed a poppier side of Dunphy’s voice than her fairly straightforward polyphonic choral piece, “What Do You Think I Fought for at Omaha Beach,” which Resonance performed in June’s Bodies concert. This is why it’s especially exciting to hear the same ensemble sing the same composer across multiple concerts.

In four of the sections setting Marlene Rangel’s story of migration, assimilation, and education, four Resonance singers sang solo melodies atop sparse accompaniment from the rest of the choir. The other four sections set poetry and testimony by Javier Zamora, Janine Joseph, Julia Montejo, and Claudia D. Hernández. On “Dancing in Buses,” vocal percussion grooved against rhythmic whispering on “pretend a boombox blasts over your shoulder,” Roches-type vocal harmonies giving way to driving chants as dancing turned into dodging bullets, an explosion of violence and chilling lines like “Face the mouth of the barrel” and “Do the protect-the-face-with-hand” and “Don’t scream.” At the end of the enchanted “More milk, milk makes it better,” the big brilliant ending on the line “It was worth all my work in the world” evoked a bunch of “Woo!”s. The closing strains of “#UnitedWeDream” got complicated and spiritual, with overlapping text layers and big lush resolutions on “RESIST! RESIST!”, a haunting ending reminiscent of Peter Gabriel’s wistful “drink up dreamers, you’re running dry.”

Resonance Ensemble and Kingdom Sound joined forces at ‘Hidden Voices.’ Photo: Rachel Hadiashar

Musically and thematically, this was the most challenging part of the concert, an act of solidarity and illumination of hidden, marginalized, internalized voices. Dunphy’s music flowed gracefully from sorrow to joy to terror, hints of the U.S. national anthem (that iconic descending trumpet call) turning sour and grief-stricken. Whenever the music was not itself outright provocative, it was transparent to let the text’s poignancy come through and do the challenging. Marlene’s story was told clearly and plainly, using the same basic musical technique as Cappella Romana’s Heaven and Earth composers—for the same reason, and with the same spiritual result.

“Keep Listening”

FitzGibbon described Resonance’s poet-in-residence S. Renee Mitchell as “somebody I admire more than just about anyone.” It’s relatively uncommon for a choir to have its own poet-in-residence, collaborations usually running more in the composer-poet direction. But Mitchell isn’t a common poet any more than Resonance is a common choir: she’s a journalist, in fact, a former writer for The Oregonian who says art saved her life.

Early in the concert, Mitchell read her customary concert poem, quoting from and reflecting upon the concert’s choral texts and themes. “We are in a black church,” Mitchell began, “so if I ask you a question—please respond!”

Poet-in-Resonance S. Renee Mitchell performed in ‘Hidden Voices.’ Photo: Rachel Hadiashar.

We still got all those characteristically punchy Mitchell lines, like “intoxicated with the nostalgic aroma of hate” and “spiritual acts of defiance / Against hostile words both spoken and imagined,” but we also got to engage in a good old fashioned call-and-response routine, flowing crescendos of verbal interplay building to a liturgical quilt of social bonding and ritual interlocution:

Mitchell: Will you stand by me / Despite my faults and my failures?
Audience: Yes!
Mitchell: Will you understand / The times when I need to just catch my breath?
Audience: Yes!
Mitchell: Will you watch with me / As the storm passes over?
Audience: Yes!
Mitchell: Will you hear our hidden voices?
Audience: Yes!
Mitchell: Will you pay attention to the world of possibilities?

And throughout the entire poem, the refrain:

Mitchell: Are you listening?
Audience: Yes!
Mitchell: Keep listening.

Mitchell seems to be settling into a comfortable role with the ensemble, her poetry now a regular routine quickly becoming a true tradition. Her contributions are always a highlight of the show, and I think she has gotten better at each concert since I first heard her do her thing at February’s Souls concert. I hope they keep her on for the next decade.

Next Up

Resonance Ensemble won’t be back until February, but you can hear Kingdom Sound doing their Christmas show at Emmanuel Church next Friday or catch local theater company Passinart’s presentation of the Langston Hughes “gospel song play” Black Nativity at Bethel A.M.E. Church December 2-16. BRAVO, meanwhile, is everywhere: with Fear No Music on December 10, with Portland Baroque Orchestra this Saturday, and with Black Violin at the Schnitz Friday. Damien Geter still performs all the damn time (wouldn’t you?), and his next gig is a three-date run with Opera Theater Oregon’s production of Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince.

Matthew Neil Andrews is a composer, singer, percussionist, and editor of Subito at Portland State University, and serves on the board of Cascadia Composers. He and his music can be reached at monogeite.bandcamp.com.

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Want to learn more about contemporary Oregon classical music? Check out Oregon ComposersWatch.

Black Violin: busting musical stereotypes

Violin & viola duo blends classical music with pop and hip-hop

“We’ve been stereotyped from the moment we picked up the instruments,”Black Violin violist Wil Baptiste Jr. told me in 2016. “Every time we step on stage, we shatter every stereotype, every perception — violin, classical music, black man, whatever.” Baptiste and his high school classmate and violinist Kevin “Kev Marcus” Sylvester will be demolishing stereotypes again Friday at Portland’s Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and Sunday at Hult Center’s Silva Hall in Eugene with their barrier-busting combo of classical, hip hop and pop music.

Black Violin performs Friday in Eugene and Sunday in Portland.

After practicing viola in his Florida high school music classes two decades ago, Baptiste would “put my headphones on and listen to whatever record was happening at the time,” he recalled. “We started off with hip hop before we even picked up an instrument.” When he and Marcus reconnected after college, they started adding beats to classical tunes like concertos by Vivaldi and JS Bach, and also adding their strings to covers of hits by Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa and other pop stars. “We understand both worlds,” Baptiste said. “So we couldn’t help but to try to put them together; it was really natural to blend the two.”

In 2004, the duo brought their act to the toughest audience in America: Harlem’s renowned Apollo Theater. “Everyone else before us got booed, we got these violins, what’s gonna happen?” Baptiste wondered. “The crowd went crazy. That’s validation. That’s all we needed right there.” Alicia Keys’s manager happened to be there, and soon BV was performing with her, Wu-Tang Clan, Wyclef Jean, and more, opening for Aerosmith and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, even playing President Obama’s second inauguration. More Apollo appearances followed, along with TED Talks, SXSW, collaborations with symphony orchestras, national tours. 


MusicWatch Weekly: odd ensembles

Unusual instrumental and vocal aggregations descend on Oregon stages this week

The weather’s changing, the climate’s changing, the Congress is changing, our linens are changing (flannel sheet season FTW!) and ensembles coming through Oregon this week are changing the formula for chamber music.

• Take the combo of violin, viola, drum, and DJ. That was the setup onstage at Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall last year when Black Violin played a couple of shows in Portland. They’re returning there Friday, and then take the Silva Hall stage at Eugene’s Hult Center Sunday. Stay tuned for my preview tomorrow, and during the meanwhilst, read ArtsWatch’s reviews of their previous Portland shows by Matthew Andrews and Maria Choban.

The Akropolis Reed Quintet performs in the University of Oregon’s Chamber Music@Beall series. Photo: Tom Emerson.

• Like Black Violin, the young Akropolis Reed Quintet is also shattering instrumental stereotypes. While string quartets and piano trios are by far the most common instruments are stereotypically “classical” ensembles, they play classic and contemporary music arranged for the unique combo of oboe, clarinet, saxophone, bass clarinet, and bassoon — and it works beautifully. “Akropolis is great at balancing expressive lead playing with clear, richly textured, well-rehearsed group dynamics,” wrote Matthew Andrews in ArtsWatch after their sizzling performances at Chamber Music Northwest last year. In their Sunday afternoon concert in the University of Oregon’s Chamber Music at Beall series, Akropolis plays an all-American music program of arrangements for of George Gershwin’s An American in Paris, contemporary compositions by Gregory Wanamaker and John Steinmetz (a name familiar to Oregon Bach Festival audiences), and 20th century classics by Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein and Charles Ives.

• Another windy ensemble returns to Portland’s Newmark Theatre Monday when the ever-popular Canadian Brass play their usual mix of classical, pop and other sounds on tuba, trombone, horns, and trumpets.

• Still another unusual classical ensemble joins the Eugene Symphony this Thursday. The four-time Grammy winning Chicago sextet (piano, percussion, flute, clarinet, cello, violin/viola) returns with a concerto written especially for them by Jennifer Higdon, the Pulitzer Prize winning American composer who’s probably the closest successor to Aaron Copland. As she showed in her appearance with the ESO and Marin Alsop years ago, Higdon is one of the country’s most engaging exponents of contemporary classical music, writing accessible yet inventive music and reaching out to audiences with equal generosity. Read Daniel Heila’s ArtsWatch interview with Higdon.

The rest of the orchestra’s splendid program includes one of Bach’s ever popular Brandenburg Concertos, some danceable Mozart, and Leonard Bernstein’s jazzy 1944 ballet score Fancy Free, which dazzlingly evokes midcentury New York’s cosmopolitan culture via a musical depiction of a story of three sailors on shore leave seeking romance (which Bernstein immediately revisited, sort of, in On the Town). Both Akropolis and eighth blackbird are also doing multiple community outreach and education events while they’re here.

• Last year, the ESO played another fine recent work by another top American composer (and another Alsop favorite), Michael Daugherty’s Tales of Hemingway. This Friday (at Portland’s First United Methodist Church) and Saturday (at Troutdale’s Reynolds Performing Arts Center), Portland Columbia Symphony orchestra plays the dramatic 2015 cello concerto, which won three Grammy Awards last year. Each movement evokes episodes from the author’s stories. A WWI vet heals himself through immersion in a Michigan wilderness; an American on a suicide mission to help the anti-fascist side in the Spanish Civil War (including a tolling bell); an old fisherman struggles against wild natural forces. In the Spanish-inflected final movement, a disillusioned, Lost Generation bohemian American expat seeks inspiration from bullfighting and the famous running of the bulls. Rising star cello soloist Allison Eldredge recently won a coveted Avery Fisher Career Grant, and was named by Musical America as Young Artist of the Year. The program also includes three other literary-inspired works by Erich Korngold and a Mozart overture.


Jennifer Higdon: updating classical music

Prize-winning American composer, whose music will be performed this week by Eighth Blackbird and Eugene Symphony, shows how the genre can avoid obsolescence


In 2011, National Public Radio asked Pulitzer Prize winning American composer Jennifer Higdon where classical music was headed in the 21st century. In distinct contrast to her generally open-hearted music, Higdon’s answer seemed pessimistic: it almost implied that classical music might be facing obsolescence. Citing its lack of Grammy Awards interest, disappearing retail sales in both CDs and books related to the subject, dwindling audiences, upturned noses of teen potential, she painted a grim picture.

But she also pointed to a way to avoid that fate: update. Bring the genre solidly into the now. Her personal plan to update classical music (not everyone agrees just what that is, BTW) is to “continue to talk with audiences to increase comfort levels . . . and [to] write the most engaging music that I can.”

Composer Jennifer Higdon’s music highlights Eugene Symphony’s Thursday concert. Photo: J.D. Scott

Fast forward to 2018, and Higdon is still doing her part with hundreds of performances a year and recordings on more than 60 CDs. As is the ESO, which has invited Eighth Blackbird to not only perform Higdon’s concerto, but also to offer workshops, lectures, and masterclasses in both public and private events (check the schedule here). And this Thursday, her music returns (Higdon will not be present) to Eugene to demonstrate how to make classical music vital. On November 15, the Eugene Symphony Orchestra joins Chicago-based new music ensemble Eighth Blackbird in Higdon’s new concerto On a Wire, written expressly for them.

Beyond being a must-see concert, what does this kind of programming say about the future of classical music? Actually, it says a lot, and in an ArtsWatch interview, so does Higdon herself. And it’s good news.


Devilish Doings

Director, dancers, choreographer and conductor offer perspectives on this weekend’s University of Oregon staging of Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Story’


A young enlistee trades his fiddle to the devil in return for unlimited riches, a princess — and ultimately loss and grief. The Russian folk tale The Runaway Soldier and the Devil, which Igor Stravinsky and Swiss writer C.F Ramuz adapted and premiered during the brutality of World War I, is a metaphor for its time as a struggle between good and evil. The Soldier’s Story (L’histoire du soldatwas first performed in Switzerland 100 years ago on September 28, 1918 at the Theatre Lausanne. This weekend, a century later, a cadre of students and faculty at the University of Oregon’s School of Music and Dance called Pacific Artists Collective (PAC) stage a theatrical revival of the Faustian tale that retains the original’s scale while providing contemporary approaches.

The Soldier’s Story has been staged in many different ways over the years, including jazz, ballet, orchestral, and even Inuit versions. But when PAC Artistic Director Bronson York approached Associate Professor of Dance Shannon Mockli about a possible production of Stravinsky’s chamber musical theater piece, he wanted to make it much like it was originally conceived: a simple and transportable hour-long theatrical work that moved from village to village, and not necessarily performed on a stage or in a theater. “So with that in mind I really brought it back to the essentials,” York says. “It has no backdrops or even really a set, with one exception in the second act.”

Minimal set design with trio of dancers in the role of soldier, devil and princess. Photo: Luke Smith

The ensemble includes a story narrator, musicians, three actors, and three dancer-characters —a soldier, a devil and a princess who, Mockli says, are “not relegated to acting these parts. Rather, they all participate in each of the dance sections, sometimes representing their characters and sometimes more poetically expressing an image or idea [or] the emotion … of a scene.”

Mockli notes that “a trio in dance always expresses a kind of dynamic tension in its asymmetry.” The dancers interweave with one another and change partnerships throughout, each affecting the shifting experiences of the others and creating dynamic tension in the narrative. Ultimately, the trio of characters are implicated by each other’s changing actions and choices, as they are “woven in a kind of eternal web,” Mockli says. “The choreography lives in this sort of liminal space of being purely poetic or impressionistic.”


Choral Arts Ensemble & Cappella Romana: many ways of being many 

Portland choirs sing music programmed and created by diverse and unified voices


Portland’s choral scene is so abundant it has its own calendar. With such an bounty of choirs, it’s no surprise that they represent many different ways of singing together. Two concerts in October—Choral Arts Ensemble’s season opener on October 13 at Rose City Park United Methodist Church, Cappella Romana’s Heaven and Earth on October 14 at St. Stephen Catholic Church—showcased two quite distinct approaches to creating choral music.

For CAE, it was their varied assortment of choral works, chosen collaboratively from their vast repertoire as a celebration of the ensemble’s long history of singing together; most of the selections, from Bach and Brahms to Ēriks Ešenvalds and Randall Thompson, were comfortably familiar, in a Western classical sort of way.

Cappella Romana performed ‘Heaven & Earth’ at Portland’s St. Mary’s Cathedral.

For Cappella Romana, on the other hand, the collaborative element was a matter of composers and singers working together within a unique and unified spiritual musical tradition—Orthodox Christianity and Byzantine Chant, traditions which are neither overly familiar (at least to Westerners) nor especially comfortable. Both approaches are valid, of course, but more importantly both demonstrate a crucial sense of unity-in-diversity, spiritual-musical solidarity, e pluribus unum, many voices coming together as one voice, seeking spiritual solace and satisfaction.

Choral Arts Ensemble: Fifty Years of Singing Together

In the opening performance of the the first concert of their fiftieth season, I was immediately struck by Choral Arts Ensemble’s brilliant tuning of even the simplest chords. This would emerge as their forte, a vertical sense of intonation, melodies and chords integrated in a way totally distinct from, say, Franco-Flemish Renaissance polyphony. It’s easy to hear a connection between the group’s democratic vibe and their approach to style, tuning, repertoire, and tradition. It probably wouldn’t be going too far to call it a distinctly Protestant attitude.

Choral Arts Ensemble of Portland opened its 50th anniversary season with a concert at Rose City Park United Methodist Church.

That big, resonant, vertical sound carried all through the concert, from the opening work—Schubert’s Gloria, its reverberant opening cadences turning on finely-tuned leading-tones—down through the full sound of English composer Colin Mawby’s 1995 Ave Verum. On Joshua Shank’s 2007 Sleeping out Full Moon, on a text by poet and WWI veteran Rupert Brooke, colorful Whitacrey harmony illuminated the lines “to all glory, to all gladness, to the infinite height.”

The chords got all melty and romantic on Josef Rheinberger’s 1855 Abendlied (Evening Song), and although their handful of Brahms Liebeslieder Waltzer (Love Song Waltzes) were perhaps not as lucid in this full choir setting as the quartet version we heard from The Ensemble a few seasons back, they were instead all lush and brimming with sehnsucht. In Ēriks Ešenvalds’s Only in Sleep, on a text by the Pulitzer-winning American poet Sara Teasdale, choir and soloists sang major thirds to make your eyes water. Offsetting Ešenvalds and Teasdale’s melancholy, the choir brought out a bright, poppy, Swingle Singers sound for Jake Runestad’s jolly John Muir song, Come to the Woods.