Classical Music

Houston Chamber Choir Rocks The House With De La Noche Al Día

Skilled in the areas of Central and South American music, María Guinand will conduct the Grammy Award-winning Houston Chamber Choir this weekend.
Skilled in the areas of Central and South American music, María Guinand will conduct the Grammy Award-winning Houston Chamber Choir this weekend. Photo by Jeff Grass Photography
The Houston Chamber Choir will present De la noche al día this Saturday under the direction of guest conductor María Guinand from Venezuela. De la noche al día, which means “from night to day,” will explore things of a darker, somber nature then move into daylight and the brightness of the spirit. The concert takes place at 7:30 p.m. at South Main Baptist Church and will emphasize the music of Central and South America.

According to the organization's founder, Bob Simpson, this concert fits into the choir's yearlong theme of "sing out the new day."

"María is going to convey to the audience the sense of the darkness that we are coming through and the lightness of the hope that we're about to experience," he said.

She'll start the concert with Scottish composer James MacMillan's "A New Song." His compositions are inspired largely by his Roman Catholic faith, and this piece is no exception. The setting is reminiscent of the new promise of the future as told through biblical text.

Following is a piece by Esteban Salas y Castro, born in 1725 and likewise inspired by religion, as well as "The Lamentations of Jeremiah," by Guinand's husband, Alberto Grau. Also included is a piece by Maurice Duruflé, whose works were recorded by the Houston Chamber Choir and earned them a Grammy Award.

"[The Duruflé piece] is the turning point [in the concert,] which shows that despite everything, God's love redeems. From that point, the second half of the program is going to be music that is based on folk tunes and indigenous texts, with lots of rhythms and percussion," Simpson commented. "The house is going to rock from that point on. The concert will have a profound beginning and then a joyous conclusion." 
click to enlarge María Guinand knows how to bring the house down. - PHOTO BY JEFF GRASS PHOTOGRAPHY
María Guinand knows how to bring the house down.
Photo by Jeff Grass Photography
Guinand is something of a rock star in the choral world. In demand around the world, she brings a master’s touch to the exuberant and passionate music of Central and South America.

"I want us to perform this concert with the greatest sense of authenticity as possible. I wanted to involve a conductor who lives that culture, knows that literature, and can not just tell us how to sing the notes but tell us how to sing the music," Simpson said.

Guinand conducts choral projects throughout Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Asia. Renowned as an authentic interpreter and trainer of Latin American choral music of the 20th and 21st centuries, she is a recipient of the Helmuth Rilling Preis, the Robert Edler Preis für Chormusik, and the Kulturpreis of the InterNationes Foundation, three of the most distinguished prizes in choral music conducting.

A graduate of Bristol University in England, she studied choral conducting and now conducts two of Venezuela’s most prestigious choirs, the Schola Cantorum de Venezuela and the Cantoría Alberto Grau, with both of whom she has toured extensively and won many awards.

She last conducted the Houston Chamber Choir in 2014, which ended with the audience leaping to their feet and erupting in thunderous applause.

"María is a very expressive conductor with her hands and her sense of grace and energy. I'm not a fortune teller, but I suspect there will be a similar response this time too," Simpson said. "This musical experience requires energy and a kind of electricity. The music has a lot of thought behind it, but it's not cerebral. It's very visceral, and that's the kind of response that our audience had last time."

De la noche al día takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at South Main Baptist Church, 4100 Main. For more  information, call 713-224-5566 or visit Tickets will also be available for the Houston Chamber Choir's Digital Stage performance starting March 27. $10 - $25.
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Sam Byrd is a freelance contributor to the Houston Press who loves to take in all of Houston’s sights, sounds, food and fun. He also loves helping others to discover Houston’s rich culture.
Contact: Sam Byrd