The Seattle Choral Company presents historic centennial program: “Baltic Centennial: 100 years of statehood”

The Seattle Choral Company (SCC), led by their founding director, Freddie Coleman, continues its 36th season with “Baltic Centennial: 100 Years of Statehood”— a concert to commemorate one hundred years since the Declaration of Independence of the three Baltic states, where the “Singing Revolution” took place.

Date: Saturday, March 24, 2018 – 8:00 p.m.

Place: Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

1245 10th Ave East, Seattle 98102

A pre-concert talk will be given one hour before the performance at 7:00 p.m. by Prof. Guntis Šmidchens, Chair of Baltic Studies at the University of Washington.

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania will jointly celebrate their centennial anniversaries of statehood and independence, taking place throughout 2018, one hundred years after the emerging Baltic states chose to submit their own Declarations of Independence after the conclusion of World War I.

These neighboring states were dominated by foreign powers right into the latter half of the twentieth century. The indigenous population did not have access to free, uncensored music-making, yet was always united through the expression of folk song. As the Baltic countries began to assert their independence it was these national songs that drew their people together and, as a result, choral music became the most dominant musical genre. From 1940 to 1990, when the country suffered the restrictions of Soviet occupation, large song festivals and choral singing in general played a crucial role in rallying, strengthening and inspiring the people. Singing remains central to the cultural life of these countries.

By sustaining a strong choral tradition, the Baltic area has fostered a continuing respect for tonal music, and when the pendulum of music fashion started to move away from the avant-gardism of the 1960s and 1970s, many Baltic composers found themselves on the crest of a wave: obvious examples include Arvo Pärt, Veljo Tormis, and Pēteris Vasks. During the second half of the twentieth century, Baltic composers have excelled in producing fresh and exciting choral music that is rooted in a tonal language—music that has won popularity among choral singers worldwide.

Street cafe in Estonia                                         Photo by Morf Morford
Street cafe in Estonia       Photo by Morf Morford

The concert will begin with the singing of the three national anthems during the presentation of flags representing the three Baltic nations. Choral works then to be performed will be:

From Estonia

“Two Psalms of David” By Cyrillus Kreek

“Two Songs After Ernst Enno” by Veljo Tormis

“Pieta” by Ester Mägi

“Laulikutele” by Ester Mägi

From Latvia

“Northern Lights” by Ēriks Ešenvalds

“O salutaris hostia” by Ēriks Ešenvalds

“Only In Sleep” by Ēriks Ešenvalds

“The Fruit of Silence” by Pēteris Vasks

“Mūsu dziesma” by Pēteris Vasks

“Te Deum” by Rihards Dubra

From Lithuania

“Dum medium silentium” by Vytautas Miškinis

“Angelis suis Deus” by Vytautas Miškinis

“Judica me, Deus” by Vytautas Miškinis

“Varpas” by Kristina Vasiliauskaitė

This concert is co-sponsored by the Baltic Studies Program at the University of Washington, chaired by Prof. Guntis Šmidchens, and the Mägi Baltic Ensemble, directed by Heather MacLaughlin Garbes.

The second half of the program will be devoted to a short program presented by the Mägi Baltic Ensemble, and the Seattle premiere of “Te Deum” by Latvian composer Rihards Dubra.

Dubra’s “Te Deum” is a truly epic composition. Although just under 15 minutes, this song of praise to God is breathtakingly moving. The sheer number of artists required to perform the work indicates its scope: boys’ choir, girls’ choir, women’s choir, men’s choir, two mixed choirs, soprano saxophone, French horn, two sets of tubular bells, tam tam, and, if that was not enough, cathedral organ. The premiere of Dubra’s work took place as part of the 2003 Latvian Song Festival and was considered one of the defining moments of the event. For good reason Dubra received the Latvian Great Music Award in 2004 for the composition.

Area choirs participating with the Seattle Choral Company in Dubra’s “Te Deum” will be:

Ancora (directed by Freddie Coleman

Columbia Choirs (directed by Steve Stevens)

Illumni Men’s Chorale (directed by Christopher McCafferty)

Mägi Baltic Ensemble (directed by Heather MacLaughlin Garbes)

Redmond Chorale (directed by Laurie Betts Hughes)

Seattle Girls Choir (directed by Alex Gagiu and Sarra Sharif)

Ticket Information

To purchase tickets to the Seattle Choral Company’s presentation of “Baltic Centennial: 100 Years of Statehood,” please visit or call (800) 838-3006.

Individual tickets are non-reserved and are priced at $25.00 (general), $20.00 (seniors, military, & veterans), $5.00 (students with ID), and free for children 6 to 10.

About The Seattle Choral Company

Led by founding director Freddie Coleman, the SCC has been capturing the attention of audiences in Greater Seattle for 35 years. The sixty members of the semi-professional ensemble come from all over the Puget Sound area. Audience members and critics have come to expect a soaring, rich sound, remarkable versatility, and concerts of great beauty and depth.

Coleman has received acclaim for his finely tuned yet spirited interpretations of choral masterworks. After a performance at Benaroya Hall featuring “Ein deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms, The Gathering Note wrote that the performance “was anchored by deep emotions, a strong sense of purpose, and an excellent advocate in Freddie Coleman and the Seattle Choral Company.”

Coleman has also championed America’s finest contemporary choral composers, offering area listeners their first live hearing of such works as Arvo Pärt’s “Te Deum,” Philip Glass’s “Songs from Liquid Days” and “Itaipú,” William Hawley’s “Seattle” and “Songs of Kabir,” Roxanna Panufnik’s “Westminster Mass,” and

Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna.” Locally, Coleman has premiered newly commissioned works by Seattle composers Bern Herbolsheimer (“Dos Sueños”) and Donald Skirvin (“Wintertide”.) The Seattle Post- Intelligencer applauded this commitment, stating, “It’s not surprising that Coleman . . . would devote an entire program to contemporary music. He has long been an advocate for living composers.”

The many albums the SCC has recorded include “The Moon Is Silently Singing,” “When the Morning Stars Sang Together,” “Carmina Burana,” “Unearthed,” “Joys of Christmas,” and “An Irish Christmas,” recorded in 2013. All have been highly praised and received extensive radio exposure. About “Joys of Christmas,” Melinda Bargreen wrote for Classical KING-FM that, “the album is well worth acquiring,” the sound is “warm and full of life,” and the chamber ensemble is “nimble and smoothly accurate.”

The SCC has become a valued collaborator with other performing arts organizations in the region. It has appeared on stage with the Pacific Northwest Ballet many times, including seven mountings of Kent Stowell’s staging of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” and “Hail to the Conquering Hero,” featuring choruses by Handel. In 2010, the SCC appeared with the Seattle Youth Symphony in Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 (“Resurrection”) at Benaroya Hall. The SCC is the choral arm of the Northwest Sinfonietta, having performed with them Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 “Choral,” Haydn’s “Mass in Time of War,” Mozart’s “Requiem in D minor,” and it looks forward to Faure’s “Requiem,” in October of 2018. The SCC has appeared with the Seattle Symphony on many occasions, including “A Tribute to Marvin Hamlisch,” and more recently joined conductor Jeff Tyzik for “Holiday Pops with the Seattle Symphony.”

In 2012, the SCC was named Artist-In-Residence at Seattle’s Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral.

Support for the Seattle Choral Company’s 36th season comes from: 4Culture, Classical KING FM, Microsoft, Boeing, the Peg and Rick Young Foundation, the Seattle Foundation, Starbucks, and The Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs.

          – Seattle Choral Company