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Sacra/Profana: A Regional Treasure Concludes 8th Season

Photo by: Weston Bennett Photography

Sacra/Profana: A Regional Treasure Concludes its 8th Season

By Rebecca Romani

Every so often there comes a choir whose voices and outside the box repertoire makes them a regional treasure. Founded in 2009 by Krishna Oberoi, local choir, Sacra Profana has been making quite a name for itself with its eclectic programs and strong, elegant voices.

Now in its eight season, Sacra Profana seems to be off to a very strong year under the direction of Juan Carlos Acosta, with a variety of concerts from “The Poet’s Voice” to its upcoming “Doctrine,” featuring some surprising new work, created just for the group.

Sacra Profana started off its Spring run, appropriately enough, with a selection of composers and texts well in with their theme for this season. “Diverse Voices.”  The poetry ranged from early Persia (Rumi) to the flower poetry of Emily Dickenson.  All  the arrangements were by modern composers, with nods to traditional madrigals in the settings for Shakespeare’s work.

Rumi’s poetry, no matter the translator, has a lush Sufi love of nature and the Infinite and the arrangements did not disappoint. Particularly moving was ‘This Marriage,” written in the early 13th century, as an invocation to the pleasures and passions of a well-matched life.  Sacra Profana’s rendition of Eric Whitacre’s velvet arrangement for interlocking voices was one of the highlights of the concert.

Shakespeare shared the first half of the concert with Rumi, with a combination of sonnets and madrigals. Sacra Profana’s treatment of the madrigals was particularly fine, especially since the arrangements quoted typical madrigal structure within a more modern tonal structure.

Interestingly enough, Sacra Profana member Colin Barkley set Dickinson’s poetry to music, no mean feat since all were from the brief, often charming notes Dickinson would send along to friends along with flowers from her garden. Some of the arrangements were a bit somber for such a warm gesture, but all were beautifully arranged, giving Sacra Profana a chance to shine at complicated tempos.

The last third of the concert was the most beautiful of the evening.  The three sonnets by Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, were presented in the original Spanish in arrangements that rendered the love poems even more profound. In addition, the complexity of the three pieces gave Sacra Profana, especially the altos and tenors, the opportunity to show off the richness of their voices.

Of special note, was a rare poem, Yama No Mizu, by the 18th century Japanese poet, Kobayashi Issa, set to a stunning musical interpretation by Lauren McLaren, and sung in Japanese.  The San Diego Children’s Choir- Chamber Choir, that took the lead on this piece, was unusually fine, for a children’s choir.

Sacra Profana concludes its exploration into diversity with a particularly exciting collaboration with composer Stephen Feigenbaum, “Doctrine,” May 19, at Park6 in San Diego, and May 20 in Los Angeles. “Doctrine” features new work composed specifically for Sacra Profana, that looks at the crossroads between pop, electronica, and an imagined future of post-sacred music.

Please see http://www.sacraprofana.org for ticket information and details.

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