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'March Madness with the Masters' at Pleasanton church

Afternoon of chorale works spans five centuries

The Valley Concert Chorale, celebrating its 54th season, will present "March Madness with the Masters" at 3 p.m. Sunday, featuring choral masterpieces through the centuries by Monteverdi, Mozart, Mendelssohn and Mantyjarvi at Trinity Lutheran Church in Pleasanton.

"Our March performance features the music of four composers, taking our audience on a historical tour of choral music," artistic director John Emory Bush said.

Beginning with Monteverdi, known for his madrigals, operas and church music, the chorale will perform three motets written for important feast days at St. Mark's in Venice where Monteverdi served as Maestro di Capella from 1613-43. He was then the most famous of the contemporary composers, referred to as the "king of the Renaissance."

Next on the tour is the music of Mozart, one of the world's most talented and gifted musicians who composed masterworks in every form, from massive choral works to piano miniatures. Featured songs include his "Missa Brevis in F" that he composed when just 18 years old. This delightful mass is scored for chorus, soloists and organ.

Moving on to Mendelssohn, considered a child prodigy on the order of Mozart, the chorale will sing the popular anthem for soprano and choir, "Hear My Prayer." Written in 1844 and the best known of his small-scale choral works, it is a beautifully crafted and expressive piece of music, featuring Valley Concert Chorale's own soprano Jumi Kim as soloist. Additionally, an exquisite eight-part setting of the "Ave Maria" text will be performed.

Closing out the performance is the contemporary music of Jaakko Mantyjarvi, a lesser-known but brilliant Finnish composer. Born in 1963, he describes himself as an "eclectic traditionalist" and has been commissioned by organizations all over the world. Many of his compositions are filled with humor, including "Train to Morrow," which the chorale will perform and, as an example of his serious side, a version of "Ave Maria."

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. High school and college students are $10; children are free. For more information or to buy advance tickets, visit www.valleyconcertchorale.org, or call 866-4003.

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