Sarasota’s Key Chorale builds its season around collaborations

Key Chorale continues to expand its collaborations with other local arts and culture groups as it prepares for its 38th season with 11 concert programs, including new editions of Cirque des Voix and the continuation of its American Roots series.

The organization, which returned to live performances last year with a season titled “Renaissance,” dubbed the upcoming year of performances “Artistry Without Boundaries.”

“These collaborations allow us to do concerts and events that go beyond what each organization could do separately,” he said of partnerships with a diverse assortment of artistic groups, Sarasota Ballet at Sarasota Circus, Venice Symphony at Westcoast Black Theater Troupe.

Key Chorale is a 120-voice singing ensemble that will perform 11 concert programs during the 2022-23 season.

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Caulkins said the 11 different programs this season show Key Chorale’s growth.

“When I started 16 years ago, we were doing two shows a year,” he said. “Now we have at least one show a month. It became a bit of a puzzle because so many bands wanted to collaborate and I hate to say no.

Partnerships bring new audiences to different organizations. “When we did our first collaboration with the Westcoast Black Theatre, there was almost no overlap with the audience. Now I think there is a crossover.

The collaboration with Sarasota Ballet and its Studio Company creates new works for both groups.

“There’s so little choral-orchestral music done with ballet and we’ve really created these completely new works that didn’t exist before,” Caulkins said.

This year, on November 27, this partnership will include Daniel Jordanconcertmaster of the Sarasota Orchestra, sitarist Kanada Narahari and the Sarasota Ballet Studio Company and Trainees to perform works by the British composer James Whitbourn and American composer and conductor Jake Runestad which incorporate lyrics from luminaries and mystics woven through Indian soundscapes. This concert also includes “The Ballad of the Brown King”, a 1954 cantata rarely heard by Margaret Bondsone of the country’s greatest black songwriters.

The piece was composed to texts by Langston Hughes in classical, jazz, gospel and calypso styles. Caulkins said it tells the story of the journey to Bethlehem through the eyes of Balthazar, the king of Macedon and one of the Three Magi.

Programs will feature a world of music, with pieces from Vaughan Williams, Verdi, Mozart, Faure, Whitacre and more, and a tribute to folk-rock trio Crosby, Stills and Nash.

The season opens September 24 with “Equinox, A Celtic Celebration,” featuring the tenor Brad Diamond and Foley’s Irish All-Star Band and Chorus performing jigs, reels, folksongs and choral music.

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On October 2, the Key Chorale Chamber Singers and Booker High VPA Choir join Sarasota’s Artist Series Concerts for a program featuring the violinist Alexander Markov performing favorite classics and his own composition “Caesar”, for electric violin, organ, choir, percussion, rhythm section and orchestral musicians.

Key Chorale reunites for two separate programs with The Venice Symphony, led by Music Director Troy Quinn. “A Holiday Season Spectacular,” Dec. 16 and 17, will include traditional carols and tracks from “The Nutcracker Suite,” “A Nightmare Before Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

Then, on February 10 and 11, the two groups will join soloists for a performance of “A Sea Symphony” by Vaughan Williams.

Caulkins said it was one of the first full-scale symphonies to incorporate a choir and would feature solos by baritone Jamal Sarikoki and soprano. Suzanne Karpov. Each program will include a special talk and presentation by the staff of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium discuss the organization’s marine research.

Caulkins will lead what he describes as an interactive exploration of choral “miniature masterpieces” on January 21-22. All selections, by composers such as Verdi, Mozart, Mendelssohn, Hogan, Whitacre, Williams and others, are eight minutes or less. It will feature chamber singers.

“We’ll talk about why these are masterpieces. We want to bring people in and give them more of the experience, not just have them sit in the lobby to listen,” he said.

The Key Chorale Women’s Ensemble performs with the Venice Symphony Orchestra on February 3 and 4 for a romantic concert of songs from films, including “Gone with the Wind”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Casablanca”. Violinist Sandy Cameron will be the guest soloist.

For the 12th year, Key Chorale will join the Circus Arts Conservatory and a 40-piece orchestra for Cirque des Voix, which features choral and orchestral music accompanying a variety of circus acts under the big top of Circus Sarasota.

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The 30-year musical history of Crosby, Stills & Nash will be featured in this year’s “American Roots: CSN” concert, continuing an annual series of concerts exploring American music. The Key Chorale Chamber Singers will be joined by the Lubben brothersan acoustic folk group consisting of brothers Michael, Tom and Joshua.

The Westcoast Troupe joins the Key Chorale on May 8 for “Grace The Spirit of Aretha”, featuring the music of the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin. This is the first time the full choir will perform with WBTT artists.

And the season wraps up with more than 200 singers of all ages, from high schoolers to seniors, joining on May 15 for the annual Tomorrow’s Voices Today, High School Choir Festival.

The organization has also planned many special events and continues to raise awareness with programs such as Off-Key Chorale, for those living with Parkinson’s disease and Where are My Keys Chorale for those suffering from memory loss.

Concerts will take place in various venues throughout the season.

Subscriptions are available now and single tickets will go on sale September 1. For more information: 941-552-8768; keychorale.org

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