SMCA June 4, 2017 Final Concert



The final concert of St. Maries Choral Arts 2017 season will feature music by all the groups in the organization, Chesapeake Children’s Chorus, St. Maries Minstrels, St. Maries Musica, St. Maries Singers and St. Maries Acapella.  Music from the sixteenth century through the twenty-first century will be presented in this gala event.

St. Maries Singers and St. Maries Musica will join forces with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) and pianist Juan Carlos Escudero to present Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy.  The Choral Fantasy was first performed in 1808 along with Beethoven’s Fifth and Sixth Symphonies, the Fourth Piano Concerto and excerpts of the Mass in C major.  Fortunately, our audience will hear only the Choral Fantasy.  If the main theme of this work sounds familiar, that is because Beethoven used it in his Ninth Symphony, Ode to Joy.   

Juan Carlos Escudero

Juan Carlos Escudero is one of South America's leading pianists.  He was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, in 1984. In 1994, Escudero joined the Rimsky -Korsakov Music Conservatory of Guayaquil, where he began his piano training with Aliona Dziouba. In 1999 he began studying piano and chamber music with Reinaldo Cañizares. In 1995 he won the First Prize of the Ecuadorian National Musical Competition at the Ecuadorian - German Cultural Center.  Mr. Escudero has performed all over North and South America.   We are thrilled to have him as our guest performer.


In addition to this wonderful Beethoven work, St. Maries Musica and SONOVA will present one of three world premiere performances of Children of Zeus, by Brian Wilbur Grundstrom.  St. Maries Choral Arts co-commissioned this work “in memory of our dear friend and colleague, Robert W. Boyd”.  To quote Jeffrey Sean Dokken, Director of SONOVA, “Children of Zeus is an incredibly exciting new commission by American Composer Brian Wilbur Grundstrom. It is comprised of 5 movements, each one focusing on one of Zeus’s children. Grundstrom has masterfully set to music text about these Greek Gods and Goddesses, capturing their spirits and personalities in this epic new work for orchestra and choir. From the lush, mysterious harmonies of Dionysus to the loud and militaristic Ares. From the beautiful melody of Aphrodite and the cynicism of Hercules, to the almost hypnotic refrain of Apollo. Children of Zeus is a magnificent new work that will keep you engaged, entertained, and educated from first note to last.” ~ Maestro Jeffrey Sean Dokken.

According to Greek mythology, Zeus was the supreme ruler of the Gods.  His wife was Hera but not all the children portrayed in this piece were Hera’s, which made her quite jealous.  Ares was the son of Zeus and Hera.  He was the god of war.  Apollo is the god of music, healing and knowledge and as the god of the sun, rode his chariot to move the sun across the sky. His mother was a human, Leto of Delos. Aphrodite, known in Roman mythology as Venus, is the goddess of Love and Beauty.  She is said to have sprung from the sea foam near the island of Cyprus.  Dionysus, Bacchus in Roman mythology, is the god of wine.  His mother was Semele, a princess of Thebes.  Hercules was the strongest on earth and considered himself the equal of the gods.  His mother was a mortal, Alcmene.  Hera hated Hercules, and drove him to kill his wife and children.  As penance, he was given 12 labors, including slaying the Hydra (the water monster that grew two heads for every one that was cut off), cleaning the Augean stables (where 3,000 divine cattle had lived for over 30 years without it ever having been cleaned), and catching the Erymanthian boar.  


Brian Wilbur Grundstrom


The composer, Brian Wilbur Grundstrom, writes for orchestra, opera, film, theater, chorus, piano and chamber ensembles.  He was classically trained in piano as well as music theory at Gettsyburg College and studied orchestration and composition with John David Earnest. Grundstrom won Outstanding Emerging Artist in the 2013 DC Mayor's Arts Awards and has received five grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

His music has been performed by Orquestra sinfônica do Teatro Nacional Claudio Santoro, La Orquesta Sinfónica de Guayaquil, Sunderman Woodwind Quintet, SONOS Chamber Orchestra, North/South Consonance, Shippensburg Festival Orchestra, Trinity Chamber Orchestra, George Washington University Orchestra, NIH Philharmonia, Holyoke Civic Symphony, The Queer Urban Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia, Chamber Music by Candelight by Baltimore Symphony Orchestra musicians. Colla Voce and The New Jersey Gay Men’s Chorus as well as on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage.  Go HERE to see Mr. Grundstrom's video of the first performance of Children of Zeus.

Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia (SONOVA) has performed with SMCA two times in the past.  SONOVA began as a small, government funded, Arlington County orchestra. Wildly popular with audiences and musicians alike, in 2011, the conductor, Maestro Jeffrey Dokken, and the committed musicians established a large, independent professional-quality symphony.  They have performed throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.  SONOVA routinely performs with world class guest artists, conductors, and musicians, and places special importance on collaborations and American and world premieres.Children of Zeus was commissioned for the fifth Anniversary of SONOVA.


Tickets for the final concert will be available at the door, Great Mills High School, June 4, 2017.  The tickets will go on sale at 2:30 for the 3:30 concert.

Musica Retreat 2016: Williamsburg, VA

Musica 2016 Retreat

Williamsburg, VA


Musica held its second retreat the weekend of August 12 – 14 in Williamsburg, VA.  Although the entire group was not able to attend, we did have every vocal part covered so rehearsals proceeded as planned.  We were able to rehearse in one of the hotel’s dining rooms, and thanks to a large family reunion convened at the same hotel, we had a built-in audience.  We made great progress in learning our winter music, thanks to Kylie’s and Maleah’s excellent leadership.

Although there are many fun outdoor activities easily accessible in Williamsburg, the 3-digit heat index made free time spent outside ill-advised.  It was necessary to find some place cool.  Hmmmm.  How about an outlet mall?  Or perhaps a wine cellar?  Great ideas!

Williamsburg Outlet Mall

Williamsburg Outlet Mall

Williamsburg Winery

Williamsburg Winery

 We shared dinner together at Captain George's on Saturday before heading home on Sunday.

Captain George's

Captain George's

 The retreat is such a fun way to learn music and get to know other members of the Musica ensemble.  We will continue this tradition next year, at some place closer to St. Mary’s County so more people can attend. 

Blake's Blog

Musica Artistic Director, Blake Clark

Musica Artistic Director, Blake Clark

We at St. Maries Musica are thrilled to be entering head-long into this year's performance season with new people, new music, and a fresh excitement for providing choral music to the community!  I am Anthony Blake Clark and I have the distinct privilege of being the Artistic Director of this long-storied arts organization; words cannot accurately reflect the gratitude and anticipation I have to lead St. Maries Musica in bold and artful music making this season.  I have been asked to give an introduction of myself, an always difficult task.  It has been wonderful to be welcomed back to the USA from my graduate studies in England with internationally renowned conductor Simon Halsey, CBE, by having the privilege of leading organizations such as the Richmond Women's Chorus, holding the position of Director of Music and Worship at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church in the DC area, and of course being named conductor of this flagship choral ensemble of Southern Maryland.  My musical pursuits have led me across this country and indeed across the pond.  I suppose the most exciting thing I have been blessed to work on recently was a collaboration between the Berlin Radio Choir and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in their performance of "Oedipus Rex" by Igor Stravinsky this past summer.  As assistant conductor of the professional choir it was my role to help prepare and rehearse the ensemble for the eventual arrival of Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the guest conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic.  It was a true pleasure to work for him and it was definitely an experience I will not forget easily.  In the UK, I studied in Birmingham with Simon Halsey, CBE and had opportunities to conduct the of City Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) Chorus, conducted in the London Symphony Chorus' "Come-and-Sing" day, conduct university orchestras and CBSO Chorus.  Now freshly returned to the USA, I am very much enjoying my time in the DC area where I am in charge of weekend services at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church (CCUMC), conduct special choral masterworks concerts at CCUMC, and am also the Artistic Director of the Soundings Concert Series which sees many local and national level performers come to present programs in our beautiful sanctuary.  One of the highlights of this year's Soundings series is a performance by the National Philharmonic Chorale, in which one of my original compositions will be premiered.

Here at St. Maries Musica, our newly formed structure now puts us in league with other music organizations in the Southern Maryland area including the Chesapeake Children's Choir, St. Maries Singers, St. Maries Musica, and other break-out groups deriving from these three ensembles.  In our first major endeavor this season you will see all three ensembles from St. Maries Choral Arts present timeless and new Christmas and holiday repertoire.  There are many opportunities to see this group; the Christmas performance schedule can be seen below this article.

We are also thrilled for our spring performances which will include an incredibly exciting collaboration with the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia in a world premiere as well as Beethoven's less heard musical romp "Choral Fantasy".  This thrilling piece, some say, is the precursor to Beethoven's most iconic and timeless work, Symphony No. 9 in D minor, in which he utilizes monumental choral forces in the work's final movement.  You will not want to miss hearing this piece and the rest of the well-balanced program.

I hope that you will join us for some of our many performances this season.  2016-2017 promises to be the most exciting season for us and we want nothing more than ever to share our music with you.  Our Winter 2016 performance schedule is listed below.  Check our website, for more information about our concert venues and tickets for Readings and Carols.  We look forward to seeing you in the concert hall!

With great anticipation,

Anthony Blake Clark

Monday, December 12th at 7 pm — “Readings and Carols” St. Mary’s Ryken High School, 22600 Camp Calvert Rd, Leonardtown, MD 20650. All groups will perform, including St. Maries Musica, Chesapeake Children’s Chorus, St. Maries Singers and St. Maries Minstrels. Special guest: COSMIC Brass. *Tickets will be $10/person (buy at the door or on website)

 St. Maries Musica Winter 2016 Season:

“A New Old-Fashioned Christmas”

Monday, December 5th at 7 pm — First Saints Community Church St. Paul’s Campus, 25550 Point Lookout Road, Leonardtown MD

 Wednesday Dec. 7th at 7 pm — Rivers Edge Catering and Conference Center, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD. Call 301-342-3656 to purchase tickets.

 December 10th, 16th and 17th at 8 pm — Madrigal Dinners at St. Mary’s City Reconstructed State House. Call 240-895-4991 to purchase tickets.

 Thurs, December 22nd at 7 pm — The Lotus Kitchen, 14618 Solomons Island Rd S, Solomons, MD 20688

Chesapeake Children's Chorus 2016 Winter Concert:

"A Peppermint Winter: A Christmas Twist"

Thursday, December 8th at 7 pm — Hollywood United Methodist Church, 24422 Mervell Dean Road, Hollywood, MD 20636