From the Basilica of St. Mark’s in Renaissance Venice to the modern concert halls and churches of Oslo and Stockholm, polychoral music (defined as multiple choirs singing both antiphonally and together) has come to occupy a special place in the hearts of singers and audiences, both for its considerable beauty and its amazing, dynamic stereo effects. Quire of Voyces, the Santa Barbara-based organization led by Santa Barbara City College’s Nathan Kreitzer, specializes in challenging polychoral music from the Renaissance and the 20th century. For its upcoming concerts at St. Anthony’s Chapel (2300 Garden St.) on Saturday, May 21, and Sunday, May 22, the group will present an entire program of this type, titled (appropriately enough) “Polychoral Music.” The show, which was researched and conceived by the irrepressible Kreitzer, ranges widely and includes some particularly fascinating contemporary work that has never been heard here before.
After an opening “Ave Maria” by 16th-century Spanish composer Tomás Luis de Victoria, the Quire will jump into Kreitzer’s latest finds—a cache of extraordinary works by 20th- and 21st-century Norwegians. It’s possible that some in the audience will already be familiar with the “Kyrie” by Knut Nystedt, but what follows—the Lovesongs I, II, and III of Torbjørn Dyrud—should be a delightful discovery for everyone. Kreitzer found them in that most early 21st century of places: Myspace. He described them to me as “an absolute showpiece based on the ‘Songs of Solomon.’”
After the intermission, the Quire will return to some of what it is best known for singing: 20th-century neoromantic music from England. Of particular interest is “Blessed Are the Dead” by composer Herbert Howells. The Quire has recently recorded a beautiful requiem that Howells wrote for his son, who died an untimely death at age 10, and now they will take on this piece, which was written to honor the passing of the composer’s father. For those who want to preview the concert, myspace.com/quireofvoyces is a great place to start. Shows take place Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m.