St. Charles Singers to Give World Premiere of Jake Runestad Work


St. Charles Singers (photo courtesy of the St. Charles Singers)


The St. Charles Singers, led by founder and music director Jeffrey Hunt, will give the world premiere of a new work by acclaimed American composer Jake Runestad at their season-finale concerts Saturday, April 18, 2020, in Chicago and Sunday, April 19, in St. Charles, Illinois.

Concluding its 36th concert season with a program titled Kaleidoscope, the mixed-voice professional chamber choir, hailed by American Record Guide as “a national treasure,” will present the first performances of Runestad’s Cello Songs: Suite for Cello, Choir, and Piano, commissioned for the St. Charles Singers.

The four-movement work, performed without breaks, is a setting of the Dorianne Laux poem “Cello,” adapted by poet and librettist Todd Boss.

Runestad’s Cello Songs anchors a program devoted, in part, to exploring the sensuous sound world of choir and cello.

Runestad, a Rockford, Illinois, native based in Minneapolis, is an award-winning and frequently performed composer of “highly imaginative” (Baltimore Sun) and “stirring and uplifting” (Miami Herald) musical works.  

Guest cellist in this concert will be British-born, San Diego-based Sophie Webber, an award-winning performer and composer who studied with legendary cellist Janos Starker at Indiana University, where she earned her doctorate in cello performance. England’s Gramophone magazine praised her recent recording of J. S. Bach’s suites for solo cello.

Pianist Michael Scott Giuliani, a collaborative pianist performing with professional soloists and ensembles throughout the Chicago area, will also join the ensemble. Giuliani also founded and directs the J.S. Bach Academy of Music at Bethany Lutheran Church & School in Naperville, Illinois.

The Kaleidoscope program includes the Chicago premier of Webber’s inventive B2C: Bach Cello Suites to Choir version of J.S. Bach's Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009. Webber’s creation comprises J.S. Bach's original score and her own choral accompaniment. The choral "lyrics,” penned for Webber by the King's Singers longtime arranger and choir member Philip Lawson, consist of what choirmaster Hunt describes as "neutral syllables."

Other choir-and-cello works on the program are Ola Gjeilo’s Serenity (O Magnum Mysterium) and Gregory Good’s arrangement of Dan Messe’s Half Acre.

Hunt notes Kaleidoscope offers listeners “a mosaic of songs reflecting romance, whimsy, religious faith, and observations on the world of nature.” 

Rounding out the program are Charles Villiers Stanford's motet Beati Quorum Via (Blessed are those whose way) from Psalm 119, William Dawson's Soon ah will be done, Arvo Pӓrt's O Weisheit (O Wisdom) from his Seven Magnificat-Antiphons, and Felix Mendelssohn's Frühlingsfeier (Celebration of Spring).

Kaleidoscope will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 18, at Old St. Patrick's Church, 700 W. Adams St., Chicago; and 3 p.m. Sunday, April 19, at Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles.

Single admission to the concert is $40 for adults, $35 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students. Group discounts are available.

​Tickets and information are available at or by calling (630) 513-5272.