Coriolis sings the songs it likes
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 939 Hinman Ave., Evanston
4 p.m. Sunday, May 20
$20 at the door
(847) 869-0223 or visit www.coriolisacappella.org
Updated: May 15, 2012 6:05PM
Doing it their way, the mixed a cappella ensemble Coriolis will present choral music from the 20th and 21st century in Grayslake and Evanston.
“The theme for our spring program is ‘Stuff We Want to Do,’ ” said Gregg Skalinder of Evanston, music director of the 12-member group that is now celebrating its 25th anniversary.
He’s not kidding. “I can’t be tied down to a theme,” he said. “It’s like being in a box. I want more flexibility.”
Flexible is a good description of the program that encompasses the premiere of Bob Applebaum’s “A Time For Everything,” based on the well known passage from Ecclesiastes; “Three Flower Songs” by the acclaimed American choral composer Eric Whitacre; and David Del Tredici’s “Acrostic Song” from his “Final Alice,” which was commissioned by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and received its world premiere in 1976 under the baton of Sir Georg Solti.
“I went to that premiere in Orchestra Hall,” Skalinder said, “and after it was over, I went straight out to the box office and bought another ticket for the following Tuesday. I heard it twice. It’s just wonderful.”
Another Applebaum premiere is “Yesh Kochavim,” composed in memory of Ruth Gideon, an alto with Coriolis, who passed away last spring.
Skalinder has a personal connection to composer John Chorbajian, whose song “My Gift,” based on the Christina Rosetti poem “In the Bleak Midwinter,” will be performed. “He was composer-in-residence at Evanston Township High School when I was there in the 1960s,” he recalled, almost wistfully.
The spring program also includes works by Arvo Part, Maurice Duruflé, and Jean Berger, as well as early 20th-century Russian pieces, “Five Choruses” for men’s voices by Nicolai Tcherepnin and “Salvation Is Created” by Pavel Chesnokov. “Silence and Music,” written by Ralph Vaughan Williams for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, will also be sung.
Several members of the Skalinder family are in the ensemble including Gregg’s daughter Amy, a soprano, and his son tenor Eric, a Chicago Public School choral director at Kelly High School. Nephew Stephen Skalinder is also a tenor.
There is one husband and wife team — bass Mark Kraemer, bass player in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and alto Christine Kraemer, who is organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston.
Additional singers include sopranos Jeanne Lockridge Mueller and Elizabeth Plemmons, piano and voice teacher; altos Nancy Bruski and Linda Kiracibasi, chair of the performing arts department of the lower school music at North Shore Country Day School; and basses Scott Niswander and David Smith.
What’s in a name
Coriolis is the name of the Frenchman Gaspard Coriolis, who lived from 1792 to 1843, but he was a mathematician and scientist, not a composer. So how did an a cappella singing group get his name?
“We used to call ourselves the O.K. Chorale,” Skalinder said, laughing. “But when we commissioned a work by John Austin, composer at the University of Chicago, he said he wouldn’t write it for us unless we changed our name.”
So they did. “We used to argue among ourselves about the Coriolis effect,” the music director explained, “and even though it had no connection to music, we thought that word had a musical feeling to it. So that became our new name.”