Williamsburg Choral Guild's new director shows his passion for music in upcoming concert

aheymann@vagazette.com

Just from looking at the Williamsburg Choral Guild’s flyers you can tell something is different. No longer a string of different graphics and typefaces, the flyers for this season are minimalistic and uniform in design.

This stylistic shift is one of many subtle signs of change the group has undergone with its new director, Brian Isaac.

Sunday is the Williamsburg Choral Guild’s third concert with Isaac, “Voice and Verse,” and it will feature music by composers C.H.H. Parry, John Milton and Gabriel Fauré.

“What we are trying to do with the Williamsburg Choral Guild is to present some composers and works that are not commonly heard but are also very good quality,” said Monroe David, a member of the Williamsburg Guild and second vice-president for its Board of Directors. “So far it has worked out pretty well, but it is a change for us.”

Isaac said one piece featured in the concert’s lineup is C.H.H. Parry’s “Blest Pair of Sirens.”

“(Sirens) is really a statement about the power of music, the power of making and, in fact, it’s a call to return to heaven’s music, which I think segues really naturally into (Gabriel Fauré’s) ‘Requiem,’ ” Isaac said.

Unlike many other notable requiems, Isaac said Fauré doesn’t focus on the judgment of man. And the lack of scorn makes the music feel more human and accessible to a modern audience.

“Fauré’s ‘Requiem’ is a peaceful, gentle work, written in 1888 in direct response to his father’s recent death,” He said. “And what I find really interesting is that Fauré really focuses on this hope for forgiveness — a hope for life and love eternal.”

Isaac said he is excited about Sunday’s performance because the guild is collaborating with Warhill High School’s Chamber Choir and the Chamber Choir from Grassfield High School from Chesapeake for Fauré’s “Requiem.”

“As a former high school choir director myself, I always appreciated the value in providing students opportunities to collaborate with large community or professional ensembles,” he said. “But for us in Williamsburg with the guild, it's a great opportunity to engage with what will hopefully be the future of our music community.”

In addition to changing up the guild’s music, David said Isaac brought a burst of energy to the chorus.

“I enjoy working with (Isaac) very much,” David said. “He’s very energetic, very upbeat and very interested in what we’re doing and interested presenting good music to good people.”

Isaac said his energy and passion stem from his love of choral music.

“I truly think that choral singing is the greatest form of storytelling and as an artistic director, I’m privileged because I get to choose the stories we tell to our audiences,” Isaac said.

Isaac is also head of the Alexandria Choral Society and the Church Circle Singers. However, he said working with the Williamsburg Choral Guild this past season has been a joy for him.

“The singers are incredibly dedicated with their craft. They’re thoughtful, they’re intentional, they’re passionate and they’re always energetic during our rehearsals together and I think that translates to engaging performances for our audiences,” Isaac said.

“I have to say, I’m looking forward to many more seasons working alongside these incredible musicians.”

Want to go?

“Voice and Verse” will be 4 p.m. March 10 at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church, 215 Richmond Road. Tickets are $20 in advance; $25 at the door; $10 for students with ID; buy at williamsburgchoralguild.org/tickets/.

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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