After trips to Argentina, Austria, Great Britain and Russia, the San Luis Obispo Vocal Arts Ensemble is heading overseas once more — this time to serenade Sweden and Norway.
“This has been one of the areas of the world that’s been on our bucket list,” director Gary Lamprecht explained.
Before the singers depart for sunny Scandinavia, however, they’ll give Central Coast audiences a sneak preview Saturday at Mission San Miguel. The chamber concert follows similar shows at Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa and Community Presbyterian Church of Cambria.
Lamprecht said the program features songs in four languages, including traditional American spirituals, European sacred music and a couple of Scandinavian favorites.
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“There’s something in there for everyone,” he said.
Founded in 1977, the Vocal Arts Ensemble first ventured overseas in the summer of 1985, launching its tour with a performance at Canterbury Cathedral in England.
“We were changing hotels every night,” Lamprecht recalled, noting that the choir also visited Belgium, France, Germany and Wales.
The ensemble toured Great Britain in 1988, traveled to Russia and Poland in 1991 at the end of the Soviet era, and visited Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic in 1995. Other destinations have included Canada, Italy, Slovenia and Uruguay.
This summer’s trip will feature stops in the capitol cities of Stockholm and Oslo, as well as a weekend at the Midsummer Festival at Rättvik, Sweden, on the shores of Lake Siljan. The 20 singers, performing under the name California Vocal Arts Ensemble, depart for Europe on Tuesday and return home June 30.
In honor of their hosts, the Vocal Arts Ensemble will perform the Swedish folk song “Vem Kan Segla Forutan Vind?” (Who Can Sail Without the Wind?”) and Alfred Paulsen’s “Norge, mit Norge!” ( “Norway, my Norway!”), a patriotic song in the vein of “My Country ’Tis of Thee.”
The rest of Saturday’s program includes Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria,”
“Joachim Neander’s “Praise to the Lord” and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina’s “Sicut Cervus,” which takes its Biblical text from Psalm 42.
“Pieces like that are very rewarding,” Lamprecht said. “You get to the last ‘amen’ and you hear people go ‘a wwww.’ ”
Welsh-born songwriter John David penned “You Are the New Day” after watching an ominous television news story on nuclear war, only to awake to sunshine and birdsong. And Nashville-based choral composer Jeffery L. Ames arranged the spiritual “I’ve Been in the Storm So Long” in response to Hurricane Katrina. “(The song) talks about the sorrow of loss, the sorrow of a life full of torment,” Lamprecht said.
According to the choral director, European audiences really respond to American songs such as “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord,” arranged by Moses Hogan, and “Dry Bones,” arranged by James Boersma.
“It’s nice to do a piece or two from the country you’re visiting, but they want to hear your music,” he explained. “They’ll absolutely go crazy for the spirituals.”
Reach Sarah Linn at 781-7907.