December 1, 2021

Con Brio will “Make a Joyful Noise” April 29

On April 29, 2012, Con Brio, the Connecticut shoreline’s renowned all-auditioned chorus, will “make a joyful noise,” as Leonard Bernstein quotes the psalmist in his 1965 Chichester Psalms, the concert’s feature work.  Under the direction of Dr. Stephen Bruce, accompanied by Assistant Director Susan Saltus and full orchestra, Con Brio will make a “joyful noise” as it celebrates its fifteenth anniversary as a chorus.  The program is rounded out with other “B’s,” Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and the Beatles, festive pieces by Vivaldi and Handel, and a number of lighter pieces the chorus will also be performing in its upcoming concert tour to southern Spain.

Bernstein’s popular work, which the chorus will sing in its original Hebrew, was commissioned by the Cathedral at Chichester, England but first performed in New York. Described as “affirmative and at times serene,” the work is comprised of three entire psalms and portions of three others. The music moves through a range of emotions: joy, plaintive anguish and at times anger, unsettledness, and, finally, hope.

The first movement, because of its complex rhythms and repeated use of the dissonant parallel seventh (the seventh interval having numerological importance in the Judeo-Christian tradition), is noted for its musical difficulty, especially for tenors.

Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook, will be the featured soloist

The second movement, based on Psalms 2 and 23, was written as if to be the young voice of David. Twelve-year-old Erik Olsen, student at the Middle School in Old Saybrook and alto in the boys’ choir of Trinity Church in New Haven, will be the featured soloist, accompanied by harp.  Both of Erik’s parents, Jennifer and David Olsen, have sung with Con Brio as chorus members and soloists. The men’s theme in this second section was adapted from material that Bernstein cut from West Side Story.

After a complex and unsettled instrumental prelude, the third movement resolves into a gentle chorale.  The last words of the piece serenely proclaim: “Together in Unity.”

This is only the beginning of the concert!  Bach’s unfinished Cantata 50, “Nun ist das Heil und die Kraft,” jubilantly proclaims “now come the power that heals us”; Beethoven’s “Hallelujah,” the final movement from Christ on the Mount of Olives, his only oratorio, is a favorite of audiences everywhere; and Brahms’ Motet on Psalm 51 is a sublime example of beautiful choral writing.

Vivaldi’s “Domine ad adjuvandum me festina,” buoyantly asks, “Lord, make haste to help me.” Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”, one of his most popular and majestic of anthems, is based upon the biblical text of the anointing of Solomon as king.  This anthem, composed for the coronation of George II in 1727, has been performed at every British coronation since.

Looking forward to Con Brio’s upcoming concert tour this spring in southern Spain is “Amor Que Une Con El Amor Grandisimo” (“Love that Unites Me with the Greatest Love).”

On the lighter side is a collection of pieces that Con Brio will also share with its Spanish audiences: a “Swingle Singers’” version of a Bach fugue; “Gabriel,” a rousing gospel tune;  John Rutter’s rollicking “When the Saints Go Marching In;” and a rendition of the Beatles’ hit, “Can’t Buy Me Love.”

Don’t miss this one.  Tell your friends.  Bring your friends.  Celebrate with joyful noise!

Tickets:  $25, available through, by calling 860 526 5399 or from any Con Brio member.

Location:  Christ the King Church, 1 McCurdy Road, Old Lyme, Ct., 4PM