CHIMACUM — The RainShadow Chorale will return to the concert stage this week with two performances of not only music but poetry by Maya Angelou, Robert Frost and Langston Hughes.
With guest conductor Jolene Dalton Gailey of Port Angeles, RainShadow’s 40 singers will appear at 7 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Saturday at Lutheran Church of the Redeemer, 45 Redeemer Way. Pianist Lisa Lanza and a Sequim City Band wind ensemble will join both concerts.
The theme of this spring program: “The Illumination of My Soul,” an expression of Gailey’s love of song. The conductor, who led the choir program for decades at Port Angeles High School before her retirement in 2020, had to cancel the farewell concerts that had been planned for the end of the school year.
“During the pandemic shutdown, I had to query myself: In time of darkness, what is the light of my life? I spent a lot of time thinking about that while we were sequestered away,” Gailey said.
“This concert is my answer to that,” she said.
The performances encompass songs that bring light — to dispel lingering gloom: from a chant for women’s voices by medieval composer Hildegard Von Bingen to Sweet Honey in the Rock’s song “Wanting Memories.”
There are pieces by J.S. Bach and Johannes Brahms, all with texts that speak about wisdom, peace and the beauty of the world.
And the poetry: Hughes’ piece “To Sit and Dream” is set to music by contemporary composer Rosephanye Powell.
It “is just stunning,” Gailey said.
Frost’s “Choose Something Like a Star” is also on the program, describing the mystery of a star and its capacity to console us, she added.
The existence and wonder of stars also surfaces in three other contemporary pieces by Eriks Esenvalds, Frank Ticheli and Erik Barnum.
Angelou’s poem “Continue,” with music by Giselle Wyers, is a commissioned piece. The composer wrote the music to honor Gailey and her husband Doug, who also retired after a long career as a music teacher. The work says what the pair wanted to say about this transition.
“Into a world which needed you / My wish for you / Is that you continue,” Angelou wrote.
“Continue / To be who and how you are / To astonish a mean world / With your acts of kindness / Continue / To allow humor to lighten the burden / of your tender heart …”
The RainShadow Chorale will perform a good portion of the poem but not its entire length, Gailey said.
The concerts this time are only about an hour and 15 minutes long, yet they feature songs in four languages: English, German, Latin and Ukrainian. The conductor plans to offer a Ukrainian prayer as the encore.
Tickets for the performances will be available at the door for suggested donations of $20 for adults and $10 for students — or whatever the patron can afford. Tickets can also be reserved by sending an email request to [email protected], specifying the number of tickets and whether the guest prefers Friday’s or Saturday’s concert.
Proof of full COVID vaccination with photo ID is required for admission, masks must be worn at all times inside the church; the chorale is immunized and has been masking during all rehearsals. For more information, see rainshadowchorale.org.