My brief time hearing this remarkable local group left a lasting impression on me after its director, Eliza Rubenstein, let me sit in a recent rehearsal. That particular night, the group of women were chanting in Estonian, among other things, in preparation for their upcoming concerts.
The chorus' upcoming program for Dec. 4 and 5, "Ice Age: Come in to the Cold," is themed for a chill not found in Newport-Mesa.
Those words sung in Estonian are for an interesting piece called "Virmalised," by Estonian composer Veljo Tormis. They musically describe the aurora borealis — the natural phenomenon of the northern skies when the sun's solar winds collide with the earth's atmosphere.
Also on the program is "Snowforms," by R. Murray Schafer. The Canadian's compositional style is among the most interesting I have ever seen. His sheet music does not incorporate traditional Western musical notation. Rather, in this case, the singers read and follow a squiggly line on the page that meanders up and down, one which somewhat correlates with the pitches indicated above key marks.
The result is a beautiful musical landscape of a world whitened with ice.
Also included on this program is Vincent Persichetti's "Winter Cantata," with flutist Timothy Hagen and marimba player Paul Sternhagen accompanying the chorus.
It's clear these women work hard for their desired sound under the direction of Rubenstein, who also serves as the choral director at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa. The Oberlin and UC Irvine graduate has been leading the group since 2000.
Janelle Tag, a Cal State Fullerton alumna, accompanies the group on piano.
Saturday's performance begins at 7 p.m., Newport Harbor Lutheran Church, 798 Dover Drive.
On Sunday, the chorus performs at 3 p.m. at St. Wilfrid of York Episcopal Church, 18631 Chapel Lane, Huntington Beach. Tickets are $20, or $15 for students and seniors.
The next concert for the Orange County Women's Chorus isn't until March, so chances to hear these talented singers should not be missed.
For more information, visit http://www.OCwomenschorus.org.
BRADLEY ZINT is a copy editor for the Daily Pilot and a classically trained musician. E-mail him story ideas at email@example.com.