Bel Canto Concert Celebrates Conductor's 25th Season

Feb. 6, 2013

Bel Canto Chorus will present Sergei Rachmaninoff’s profoundly moving "All-Night Vigil (Vespers)" on Sunday, March 10, at 3:00 PM at St. Joseph Center Chapel (1501 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee, WI 53215).

In honor of Maestro Hynson’s 25th anniversary as music director, Bel Canto Chorus and Boy Choirs will also present the world premiere of its newly commissioned work, "At All Times And At Every Hour (Morning Prayers)" by Alexander Levine.

Alexander Levine’s At "All Times And At Every Hour (Morning Prayers)" is a through-composed series of four morning prayers for acappella chorus and boy choir. The piece was commissioned for this concert by Bel Canto Chorus to honor Richard Hynson’s 25th anniversary as music director. Levine will be in attendance at the concert for the world premiere performance. A celebratory reception for all gathered will be held in St. Joseph Hall after the concert.

Sergei Rachmaninoff’s "All-Night Vigil (Vespers)" is a musical setting for a night-long service celebrated in Russian monasteries and Russian orthodox churches. Written at the height of Rachmaninoff's compositional powers, this lush and beautiful composition for unaccompanied voices is considered to be the finest of his sacred works. “Even in my dreams I could not have imagined that I would write such a work,” Rachmaninoff told the singers at the first performance in March 1915.

To purchase tickets ($20-$25), call the Box Office at (414) 481-8801 or visit Senior, student, and group discounts are available.

Sergei Vasilievich Rachmaninoff was a Russian composer, conductor and concert pianist whose works reflected 19th century Romanticism. He wrote piano concertos, solo piano music, symphonies, preludes, vocal and orchestral pieces. Rachmaninoff came from a musically-talented family; both his father and grandfather played the piano. He started taking piano lessons at the age of 6 with his mother who was a trained pianist. He later went to St. Petersburg Conservatory where he studied piano and composition, then attended the Moscow Conservatory. Rachmaninoff was further influenced by the works of Tchaikovsky. Rachmaninoff was quite a tall man, standing over 6 feet in height. He also had huge hands which enabled him to play large intervals on the keyboard. He became a U.S. citizen just a few weeks before he died on March 28, 1943.

Born in Moscow in 1955, Alexander Levine studied piano from the age of six, and later he took up the clarinet. Upon graduation, he was accepted at the Moscow Gnessin Music Academy, where he studied from 1976-1980. In the years that followed, he established himself as a composer working in collaboration with a variety of highly acclaimed performers in Russia. His compositions won prestigious awards from the Russian National Radio and Television in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Since 1992, Alexander Levine has lived in the United Kingdom. In 1993, he studied Postgraduate Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, receiving his Master’s Degree in Composition in 1995.

This season marks Richard Hynson’s 25th anniversary season as Music Director of Bel Canto Chorus. Since 2006, Hynson has also served as Music Director of the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. In addition to his work as a conductor and educator, Hynson is a composer. He has written a substantial body of published choral, vocal, and ensemble works, many of which he has recorded with Bel Canto Chorus singers. The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants have frequently performed Hynson’s In the Midst of Life, composed in response to the events of September 11. Hynson was awarded the 2012 American Prize – community choral division. This national prize provides evaluation, recognition, and reward to America’s finest performing artists, ensembles, and composers. In making the award, the American Prize committee wrote: “During his 24 years as Music Director, Dr. Richard Hynson has transformed Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee from a venerable community chorus to a vibrant, successful arts organization respected for its artistic excellence, innovative programming, and impactful outreach….”

Formed in 1931, Bel Canto Chorus is Southeastern Wisconsin’s longest continuously performing arts organization. It is made up of mostly volunteer singers from southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Under the direction of Richard Hynson, the chorus opened its 81st season on Sunday afternoon, September 11, 2011 with “United We Stand” in Cathedral Square park. This free concert marking the tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks featured Mozart’s Requiem and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings” with the Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. “The chorus sang with force and assurance, easily separating the complex vocal lines… and following Hynson's judicious phrasing in when to hold back and when to let go.” (David Lewellen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Bel Canto Boy Choirs were formed in August 2009, under the direction of Ellen M. Shuler. As Milwaukee’s only boy choirs, the groups consist of talented boys with changed and unchanged voices.

In the early 1900s, Mother M. Alfons Schmid, co-foundress of the School Sisters of St. Francis, commissioned Milwaukee church architects Peter Brust and Richard Philipp to design a chapel to adjoin the convent, erected in 1891. The Italian Romanesque Revival chapel, with its excellent acoustics and exquisite beauty, was dedicated on March 19, 1917. Mother Alfons’ initiative in fostering the arts shaped a nationally recognized legacy that continues today. For more information visit

For additional information, promotional photos, or interview requests, contact Marla Hahn, Interim Executive Director, at (414) 481-8801.
Bel Canto Chorus
(414) 481-8801

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