Firelands Chorale returns with ‘Songs of Thanksgiving’ on Nov. 19; Director Michael Shirtz, vocalist Kirsten Kunkle, Composer Matthew Kennedy are featured

Nov 7, 2023 | Featured, Entertainment | 0 comments

The Firelands Symphony Chorale returns for its ‘Songs of Thanksgiving’ concert on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. (Photo by Doug Klein/Firelands Photography)

The Firelands Symphony Chorale (FSC) returns for its annual ‘Songs of Thanksgiving’ concert on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 4 p.m. at Sts. Peter & Paul Catholic Church in Sandusky. The chorale, under the direction of Michael Shirtz, will also feature a chamber orchestra, guest vocalist Kirsten C. Kunkle and Composer Matthew Kennedy.

General admission tickets are available at firelandssymphony.com/tickets or by calling the FSO office at 419-621-4800 (Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.). Adult tickets are $20. Student tickets for youth and college students are free.

This year’s theme is based on the hymn It Is Well with My Soul and focuses on hope, understanding, renewal and gratitude. The group performs various vocal masterpieces to raise the spirit during these times of Thanksgiving.

The Firelands Symphony Chorale, under the direction of Michael Shirtz, will be joined by a chamber orchestra and classical guitarist Adam Sartorius. (Photo by Doug Klein/Firelands Photography)

The chorale concert will debut the world premiere of A Prayer for Peace by composer Matthew Kennedy.

“The lessons that Thanksgiving brings remind us of gratitude, hope, renewal and the importance of letting go of our differences and coming together in unity as family, friends, and community. We hope that this concert is the perfect experience to begin one’s holiday season and fill the soul with gratitude for all the blessings in our lives,” said Chorale Director Michael Shirtz.

This year’s concert highlight is the world premiere of A Prayer for Peace by noted composer Matthew Kennedy. This work is based on the text of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi.

Featuring soprano Kirsten C. Kunkle, the chorus, and sinfonietta of strings and winds, the work is a beautiful weaving or melodies and harmonies that calls attention to our own opportunities to do good for others, bring peace to the world, and be grateful for the gifts in our lives.

World-renowned soprano Kirsten C. Kunkle joins the Firelands Symphony Chorale as the soloist for the concert.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to write and collaborate with Mike, Kirsten, and the chorale,” said composer Matthew Kennedy, whose works have been performed on five continents to critical acclaim. “As a teenager, I always said that all I wanted to do was make music with my friends. With the hospitality and collegial warmth I have received from everyone involved with FSO, it has felt like I am being welcomed as an old friend.

“Prayer for Peace is a new work that is evergreen in relevance and in its plea for peace, unity, and for a humanity of use (and at peace).”

The concert program also includes To Sit and Dream (an incredible choral work with text by poet Langston Hughes), and will honor the great work of composer Moses Hogan, with performances of his selections Music Down In My Soul and I Want To Thank You Lord. Other traditional choral works will also be performed, such as Amazing Grace, It Is Well With My Soul, Come Ye Thankful, We Gather Together, My Soul Cries Out, May The Road Rise to Meet You, Where the Light Begins, Ave Maria, and more.

In addition, the concert will be enriched with William Barrett offering narrations that evoke moments of reflection and wisdom for the Thanksgiving season, as well as classical guitarist Adam Sartorius performing with the chorale and performing a solo feature.

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