If you love massed voices, you’ll want to go to “Bridges of Song,” a collaborative concert this Saturday with the Tacoma Symphony Chorus. Joining forces with the Tacoma Youth Chorus Chorale (hence the ‘bridges’ bit) the Chorus (directed by Geoffrey Boers) will sing an eclectic program that ranges from Schubert to Ives, with four-hand piano thrown in.
It’s a collaboration that makes sense: Younger choirs, like the 22-year-old Tacoma Youth Chorus, benefit enormously from hearing and singing with more experienced musicians, while older singers pick up on the enthusiasm and freshness of their younger peers.
The two groups will sing works both by themselves and together: The TYC’s offerings include the Gloria from Schubert’s Mass in F and Ola Gjeilo’s “Ubi Caritas”; the TSO Chorus will sing works including William Averitt’s “Dreamkeeper,” Charles Ives’ “Circus Band” and dance-based works by Brahms, Copland and Sullivan; and both choirs will join for three segments that include music by Vaughan Williams and Mack Willberg.
Boers also has a fun summer lined up. From June 29-July 7 he’ll tour Finland with a choir from the University of Washington, singing concerts in the annual Latvian Songfest, which includes a parade through downtown Riga in folk, concert or historic dress out to the Song Stadium for a concert that sees 15,000 in the massed choir and 100,000 in the audience.
A lot of the singing there is sharing folk songs, and after their first trip when “Happy Birthday” and “The Hokey Pokey” were the only American songs everyone in the chorus knew, Boers made the same tour last summer with the Tacoma Symphony Chorus, who kept awake on the bus with classics like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain.”
Says Boers: “One night in the back of an absinthe bar a few of us heard some singing in the back room. It was a Swiss choir, singing improvised harmony to volunteer soloists who would randomly stand from within their group. We soon joined them, and soon had them singing this little ‘fricassee’ of American tunes. They too wanted to go until dawn and begged the barkeep to let us stay past closing time at 2 a.m. They know how to sing and party there.”
Boers has had an equally song-filled spring, guest-conducting choirs in Korea and Germany.
“I love these cultures that revolve around singing,” he says. “What a blast.”