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Bach society to open 2017-18 season with sing-along

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Lucinda Breeding

The leaders of the Denton Bach Society are looking at their mission with fresh eyes. 

Now in its 41st season, the volunteer choir and players are preparing to launch another music director search. And the group also has booked a season that will take it on a short tour of town and to McKinney for one date. 

"We're learning that we have to take our music to the people," said Hildegard Rainbow, a founding member of the society who is settling into her new role as production team manager. 

The Bach society has shuffled its leadership between the board, which will focus on fundraising and governance, and the newly formed production team, which handles concerts and programs. After longtime director Henry Gibbons retired, Dallas music director Alfred Calabrese took the baton. After a single season, Calabrese departed. Rainbow said the commute from Dallas proved too onerous for him to continue leading weekly choir rehearsals.   

Rainbow said the upcoming season will stage each concert in a different location, and will feature three guest conductors. 

The first concert, "Celebrating the Joy of Singing," will be 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8. 

The concert presents a program of secular and sacred favorites from a surprising spread of composers. Sure, Brahms and Praetorius are on the bill — "In stiller Nacht" and "Viva la musica!" — but so are some old hymns. "Be Thou My Vision" is an old Irish hymn, and Bob Dylan is the composer behind "Lay Down Your Weary Tune." Some of the songs are pieces the choir has performed in past seasons. 

The season opener also is built for participation. 

"We want participation in this concert," Rainbow said. "If you've sung with us before, or if you used to be in a choir and love to sing, join us. We are very intentionally taking concerts around the city."

The opening concert will have two accompanists, and Rainbow will share directing duties with soprano Beverly Hoch, Vicki Falkner Jones and Courtney Seale. 

The concert will be in the brand new Chapel of Good Samaritan Village, 2500 Hinkle Dr. 

Rainbow said she's keeping a label for the season in her head.

"I think 'looking back while moving forward,'" she said. "And for the next season, I'm thinking 'exploring new directions' for a season of guest directors."

Longtime Bach Society volunteer and organist Lenora McCroskey will direct "Martin Luther: Poet, Musician, Theologian" at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 5 at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 703 N. Elm St.  The concert will include works by Bustehude, Distler, Mendelssohn, Pachelbel and Telemann. 

Jason Lim, the music director of Odysseus Chamber Orchestra will join the society for two concerts. The first is "Antonio Vivaldi: Gloria in D, RV 589" at 8 p.m. Friday, April 6 at Church Street  Auditorium, 306 N. Church St. in McKinney. 

The second concert Lim will lead is "The Glory of Antonio Vivaldi," and will reprise his "Gloria in D, RV 589" at 4 p.m. Sunday, April 15 at the First Presbyterian Church of Denton, 1114 University Dr. 

The Odysseus Chamber Orchestra will perform with the Bach society in the April performance, and Lim will conduct the Bach choir and a smaller orchestra ensemble "Sonare and Friends," which is also under the leadership of Dr. Lenora McCroskey and Eric Smith.

The season ends with a free concert that will showcase the society's singers and musicians, including the winners of the Denton Bach Society 2018 Young Musicians Competition at 7 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at the Denton Woman's Club Building, 610 Oakland St. 

"I'm really looking forward to this season," said David Weber, who sings with the baritone section and is assistant treasurer of the society. "I'm excited about what we're going to be doing." 

The Bach choir is looking for more tenor singers. Vocalists have to audition for the choir. Sight-reading skills are required, and a knowledge of the repertoire is preferred. The society performs the work of Bach and his contemporaries. 

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LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached at 940-566-6877 and via Twitter at @LBreedingDRC.