The Verdi Chorus celebrates its 35th anniversary with its Spring 2018 concert The Force of Destiny for two performances only at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica on April 28 and 29 led by Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music for opera chorus, their program will feature selections from three Verdi operas – La forza del destino, Nabucco, including the famed chorus “Va, pensiero,” the opening party scene of La traviata, and conclude with beloved melodies from Strauss’ Die Fledermaus.

The program will feature four guest soloists: soprano Shana Blake Hill, hailed by Opera News for her “flood of glorious sound,” mezzo-soprano Karin Mushegain called “superb” by The New York Times, tenor Alex Boyer, celebrated in The San Francisco Chronicle for his “grit and vocal power,” and baritone Ben Lowe, who returns to the Verdi Chorus by popular demand and who recently made his New York debut at BAM in Matthew Aucoin’s opera Crossing.

Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum said, “I am so excited to be honoring the 35th season of the Verdi Chorus and to celebrate our thirty-five years of music making. The literal translation of Verdi’s La forza del destino is ‘The Force of Destiny’ and this could not be more apt in relation to the ongoing longevity of the Verdi Chorus. When the Chorus was launched in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica, there was just no way of knowing what we would grow into as a performing arts organization. We’ve not only outlived the restaurant where it all began and where we first started presenting opera choruses in concert, we have also become a force in the L.A. classical music community and are proud to be able to provide career development opportunities for young professional singers.”

The Verdi Chorus prepares for concerts with rehearsals that take place every Monday night. There, an amazing thing happens as over 50 singers gather together from every walk of life to become the Verdi Chorus. This wide swath of people includes singers from 22 to 80 who come from a variety of professions, and yet have one thing in common: the desire to sing side by side each week and delve into the rich, dramatic world of opera. They in turn are joined by opera stars at the beginning of their careers, and college students who have just begun to realize their operatic gifts, as all of them become one under the direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum. Each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

Raising their voices together they become the lively entourage of renowned courtesan Violetta Valéry, the unruly crowd found inside the inn at Hornachuelos one fateful night, the weary but fiercely impassioned chorus of Hebrew slaves, and finally, the joyful guests of Prince Orlofsky in turn of the century Vienna.

Further demonstrating the organization’s mission to provide performance opportunities to young professional singers, fourteen highly promising singers are hired as section leaders and rehearsal coaches. Known as the Walter Fox Singers, named in memory of a long-time Chorus and Board member, these singers assist the Artistic Director, provide direction for their sections in rehearsals, and have opportunities to perform as featured singers in performances. The Walter Fox Singers also perform on occasion independently of the full Chorus, serving as a showcase for the singers and as ambassadors for the Verdi Chorus. Performances of special arias and ensembles have been presented at venues in Southern California including the Annenberg Beach House, The Broad Stage, the Huntington Library, and the Nixon Library.

The Chorus is also proud to continue with the Apprentice Singers program that was established in 2015 in which talented vocal music students at the college level gain the opportunity to work with the Chorus in rehearsals and sing operatic music in concert. Participants in the program for this session are soprano Natalia Ferreiro, alto Emma Berggren and tenor Taj Jegaraj. Each receives a scholarship to provide funds with which they can broaden their music studies. Apprentices who successfully complete the program are invited back to sing with the Chorus for subsequent sessions.

Performance times are Saturday, April 28 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 29 at 2 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, located at 1008 11th Street.

Tickets are available for purchase at www.verdichorus.org or by calling (800) 838-3006. Priority seating is available for $40, general admission is $30, seniors are $25, and students aged 25 and under with a valid ID are $10.

The Verdi Chorus is a Southern California nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting opera choruses in concert and to providing career development opportunities for young professional singers. As the only choral group in Southern California that focuses primarily on the dramatic and diverse music of the opera chorus, the Verdi Chorus gives talented amateur singers the unique opportunity to sing side-by-side with professional singers in rehearsals leading up to performances held to the highest artistic standards. Under the direction of its remarkable Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, each rehearsal is like a vocal master class.

The Verdi Chorus was founded in 1983 at the Verdi Restaurant in Santa Monica. When the restaurant closed in 1991, the Verdi Chorus continued. In 1999, the chorus incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Under the continuous direction of Founding Artistic Director Anne Marie Ketchum, the chorus presents four concerts each year as well as other collaborative events. Its repertoire includes over 300 choruses from 81 operas in seven languages.

For more information visit: www.verdichorus.org.

Submitted by Peter Goldman, Davidson & Choy Publicity