All Souls Day falls on Sunday, November 2, and marks a collaboration between Brattleboro Area Hospice and Friends of Music at Guilford. FOMAG’s “Rest in Peace” concert, co-directed by Tom Baehr and Amy Cann, begins at 3:00 p.m. that afternoon in the sanctuary of Guilford Community Church. Two song series and a few instrumental interludes are featured in this first of four arts programs—including music, art, film, and theater—scheduled during the “Love Lives On” series honoring Hospice’s 35th Anniversary in November.
Eight songs are from “Rest in Peace: The Gravestone Epitaph Project” (2014) by Tom Baehr, director of the Guilford Chamber Singers since 2012, as well as the composer or arranger of some of the group’s repertoire. A blend of the “cautionary, quirky, and even humorous,” Tom’s texts are from several New England graveyards. His settings “take an eclectic bent, echoing 19th-century part songs, pentatonic melodies, and even some nods towards the close harmonies of barbershop singing.”
The second collection, six pieces with more poignant and serious texts, is entitled “An Untimely Frost: Songs from the Old Antrim Center Cemetery” (1999). Composer Bruce Randall, of Haverhill, Mass., was a repertoire consultant and instrumentalist for our Christmas at Christ Church programs in 2007 and 2010. “The music is written in the style of the First New England School of composers, who flourished in the period contemporary with the verses,” explains Bruce. Think English West Gallery style or American Sacred Harp, which have similar characteristics.
The repertoire of songs will be performed by an ensemble of six regional voices gathered especially for this concert. The RIP Singers, as they have been calling themselves, include Amy Cann and Jenny Holan, soprano/alto; Andrea Matthews, alto; Tom Baehr, tenor; and Alan Blood and Bruce Landenberger, bass. Members of the Guilford Chamber Players will sprinkle a few instrumental delights into the program.
Tom Baehr majored in music and made arrangements for marching band when he taught music in public school. “I put out four tunebooks for fretted dulcimer, tried my hand at a couple of jigs and reels for penny whistle, and wrote music for some ancient lyrics to Christmas anthems, some that the Guilford Chamber Singers performed last year,” shares Tom. “I’ve put aside some of my instrumental music endeavors, but choral music continues to engage me in the five groups I’m involved in. . . . Composing isn’t at the forefront right now, but I’ll get back to it sooner rather than later.”
Bruce Randall, a former classical trombonist, has been composing choral works since 1985, totaling over 5,000 pieces to date. Writing in the style of Early New England composers William Billings, Daniel Read, Timothy Swan, and their followers, his music appears in several shape-note tunebooks and has been sung around the world, from the Alabama State House to a medieval Welsh monastery, and from Sitka, Alaska, to Warsaw, Poland. His other interests include Renaissance and Medieval music, and he is the director of the only West Gallery Quire in the New World.
A teatime reception follows. Admission is $10 per person at the door. Guilford Community Church is at 38 Church Dr., Guilford. From Rt. 5 south of Exit 1 off I-91, turn into Bee Barn Rd. near the Country Store and then go left into Church Drive. An elevator at Guilford Community Church makes the building wheelchair-accessible.
For further information, contact Friends of Music at (802) 254-3600 or firstname.lastname@example.org; visit online at www.fomag.org. Friends of Music at Guilford’s 49th concert season is sponsored in part by a grant from Entergy Vermont Yankee.