November 5, 2015

Community & University Choirs Present Family Concert by Candlelight

Dr. Jenny Bent

Usher in the holiday season with the Symphonic Chorus and Chamber Singers of Sonoma State University under the direction of Dr. Jenny Bent as they perform the annual Family Concert by Candlelight on November 20 in Weill Hall. Participating in the 7:30 pm concert will be singers from Maria Carrillo, El Molino and Casa Grande high schools, choristers from Santa Rosa’s Unitarian Universalist Congregation, and children’s choirs from Petaluma and Sonoma.

The program will feature Vaughan Williams’ 1912 setting of English folk carols for baritone and chorus entitled Fantasia on Christmas Carols with SSU’s Rodrigo Castillo as baritone soloist. Other works include Eric Whitacre’s Five Hebrew Love Songs and Magnificat by17th century Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo. Audience members will be invited to sing along on favorite carols and the Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah.

Donations of canned goods for the Redwood Empire Food Bank will be accepted. The Redwood Empire Food Bank (REFB) defines ending hunger as providing sufficient resources in all areas of the county for anyone seeking food assistance. They accomplish this through direct service food distributions as well as through partnering agencies which create a network of pantries, kitchens, shelters, group homes, child care facilities and other programs in all areas of Sonoma County. The REFB is the hub of 178 agencies with 276 programs located in every city, town and unincorporated area of Sonoma County. Agencies shop at the REFB to support their programs.

Tickets are $8, available at the door and online. Use promo code 5LIVE to receive $3 off the price of each ticket. Children under two will be admitted free.

Weill Hall is located at Sonoma State’s Green Music Center, two miles east of Highway 101 on Rohnert Park Expressway, near the intersection with Petaluma Hill Road. Parking is available in lots L, M, N and O.


Vaughan Williams – Fantasia on Christmas Carols, Rodrigo Castillo, soloist
Whitacre – Five Hebrew Love Songs
Leonardo Leo – Magnificat  

Carol Sing-Along

Participating Choirs

Maria Carrillo High School
El Molino High School
Casa Grande High School
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Rosa Choir

Carol sing-along led by:
Petaluma Children's Chorus
Old Adobe Charter School Choristers
Awesome Joy Children's Choir from Sonoma United Methodist Church


Box Office phone (707) 664-4246


Fantasia on Christmas Carols
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)

Fantasia on Christmas Carols is a 1912 work for baritone, chorus, and orchestra by the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams. First performed at the 1912 Three Choirs Festival at Hereford Cathedral, the work is a single movement of roughly twelve minutes which consists of the English folk carols "The truth sent from above", "Come all you worthy gentlemen" and "On Christmas night all Christians sing" (i.e. the Sussex Carol), all folk songs collected in southern England by Vaughan Williams and his friend Cecil Sharp a few years earlier. Vaughan Williams studied at Cambridge and at Royal College of Music and in 1895 established a lifelong friendship with Gustav Holst. He studied with Bruch in Berlin (1897) and Ravel in Paris (1908), evenutally rejecting foreign Romantic influences in favor of inspiration from native material, including Elizabethan and Jacobean music and English folksongs, of which he collected over 800. Active with amateur music-making, conducting, composing for choirs, brass bands and film, Vaughan Williams also taught. His pupils included Gordon Jacob and Elizabeth Maconchy.


Five Hebrew Love Songs
Eric Whitacre (b. 1970)

American composer Eric Whitacre wrote Five Hebrew Love Songs after poems by Israeli soprano Hila Plitmann (whom he later married). Originally composed for soprano, violin and piano, the SATB choral version in 2001 grew from a commission by the University of Miami. The work is highly versatile and has been arranged for SATB and string quartet; SATB, violin, and piano; SA and string quartet; SA violin, and piano; and the original soprano, violin, and piano. The choral parts are exactly the same for the different accompaniments. The composer says, "Each of the songs captures a moment that Hila and I shared together. Kala Kalla (which means ‘light bride’) was a pun I came up with while she was first teaching me Hebrew. The bells at the beginning of Eyze Sheleg are the exact pitches that awakened us each morning in Germany as they rang from a nearby cathedral." The five poems are entitled Temuna (A Picture); Kala Kalla (Light Bride); Larov (Mostly); Eyze Shelleg! (What Snow!); and Rakut (Tenderness).


Leonardo Leo (1694-1744)

Leonardo Leo’s influential roles as a teacher, composer, organist, and maestro di cappella all centered around Naples. Having studied at the Pietà dei Turchini, he later returned there to teach, eventually succeeding his own mentor Nicola Fago as primo maestro in 1741. He held that position until his death. During these same years, he was primo maestro at the Sant’Onofrio Conservatory where he taught such notable composers as Nicolò Jommelli and Nicola Piccinni. His service in the Real Cappella di Napoli began in 1725 when he assumed the position of first organist following the death of Alessandro Scarlatti. Gradually, Leo rose through the ranks of this most prestigious musical organization and finally assumed the role of primo maestro just a few months before his death. As with most of his contemporaries, Leo achieved fame primarily for his operas. These works not only received performances in major Italian locales but also in several foreign cities such as Dresden, London, Madrid, and Paris. Closely following opera was Leo’s reputation for sacred music composition. He composed more than seventy liturgical works, including at least eight Dixit Dominus settings, eight sacred dramas or oratorios, six Masses, five Miserere settings, two Magnificats, and a Te Deum.



Jenny Bent, Director of Choral Activities

JENNY BENT, DMA, is the Director of Choral Activities at Sonoma State University, where she serves as conductor of the University Chorus and Chamber Singers. She is a graduate of Boston University (BM in Voice Performance, MM in Choral Conducting, MM in Voice Performance) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DMA in Choral Conducting and Choral Literature). Her teachers include Ann Howard Jones, Fred Stoltzfus, Susan Ormont, and Jerold Siena. She has also worked with such choir eminences as Robert Shaw, Joseph Jennings, Matthew Oltman, Peter Bagley, Dennis Keene, and Julian Wachner. In addition to directing the SSU choirs, Dr. Bent teaches Conducting, Ear Training, and Voice.

In California, Jenny Bent’s choirs have received much acclaim, earning unanimous superior ratings and command performances at choral festivals throughout the Bay Area and receiving invitations to perform at such venues as Carnegie Hall in New York City and Disney Hall in Los Angeles. She has ten years of experience as a high school music educator, most recently having served as the Director of Vocal Music at the Marin School of the Arts. From 2002-2007 she was the artistic director and conductor of the award-winning teen treble choir, Chantons. Dr. Bent also served on the voice faculty of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute, which is part of the Tanglewood Music Center, the summer home of the Boston Symphony.

In addition to her academic work, Jenny Bent serves as an adjudicator for such organizations as the California Music Educators Association and the American Choral Directors Association and a clinician for choirs throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Due to her love of research, Dr. Bent enjoys shedding light on various aspects of choral music history. For example, she transcribed, edited, and has worked to publish recently discovered choral works by Peter von Winter, a contemporary of Mozart. In addition, she hosts the radio show The Choir Loft on KRCB, the Sonoma County National Public Radio affiliate.



Media Contact

Ruth Wilson
Lecturer in Horn
Music Department Publicity
Sonoma State University
1801 East Cotati Avenue
Rohnert Park, CA 94928