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Ragazzi Boys Chorus presents "From East to West"

  • Trianon Theatre 72 North 5th Street San Jose, CA, 95112 United States (map)

Location: Main Theatre

REDWOOD CITY, CA (29 January 2018) — Acclaimed Ragazzi Boys Chorus presents From East to West, a spring concert series that takes audience members on a cross-cultural, global tour. The program showcases intriguing musical traditions from a wealth of cultures, including pieces from Korea, the Cherokee Nation, Europe, China, Japan, India, and more. Through this international program, the boys will highlight the commonalities that make great music accessible to all. This concert, sung by Ragazzi’s Concert Group and Choral Scholars, also includes classics from the Western tradition. From East to West performs 3pm, Saturday, March 24 in San Jose and 6:30pm, Sunday, March 25 in Redwood City (venues/addresses listed below).

The program begins with two pieces from Korea: Arirang and Nodle Kangan. Often considered the unofficial national anthem of Korea, Arirang is a folk song dating back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, with over 3,000 variations of the song. Ragazzi will perform a choral adaptation by Chen Yi, a Chinese violinist and composer of contemporary classical music. In 1986, Chen became the first woman in China to receive a master’s degree in composition, and a concert of her music was presented on Chinese television. After earning her doctoral degree at Columbia University, Chen held resident composer positions with three major San Francisco-area institutions: the Women’s Philharmonic Orchestra, the Aptos Creative Arts Center, and the a cappella chorus Chanticleer. As part of her residency with Chanticleer, Chen also worked with Joyce Keil and her choirs at Lick Wilmerding High School. She is recognized as one of the leading Asian-born composers who also found success in the United States in the 1990s, merging Asian and Western musical structures in new and exciting ways.

Also featured are two pieces from China: Mo-Li-Hua (also known as Jasmine Flower) and Magnificent Horses. Jasmine Flower Song has been performed at key events, such as the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics, and controversially during the 2011 Chinese protests. Created during the Qianlong era (1735-1796) of the Qing dynasty, the Jasmine Flower Song has become popular throughout China and abroad, with many regional variations. The version heard in this program is an arrangement by South Korean composer, Hyo-Won-Woo, who uses elements from both Korean music and Western contemporary composition techniques. The witty and robust Magnificent Horses, arranged by Jing Ling Tam, is a fantasy on a Mongolian folk tune. Ling Tam has conducted over thirty national and divisional honors choirs throughout the United States, making her one of North America’s most sought-after choral conductors.

The three Japanese pieces in this program include Hotaru Koi, Soran Bushi, and Kokiriko. Dating back to the Edo period (1603-1868), Hotaru Koi (Firefly Come) invites the twinkling firefly up a mountain path to enjoy sweet tasting water. Ragazzi will perform a choral arrangement by Japanese composer and writer, Ro Ogura, who found inspiration in Japanese traditional folk songs and nursery rhymes. Said to have been first sung by the fishermen of Hokkaidō, Soran Bushi is one of the most famous traditional songs and dances in Japan. The folk song Kokiriko is specific to Gokayama, an area within the city of Nanto, and takes its name from an ancient court percussion instrument. The words suggest that the listener should dance to the kokiriko as in ancient days. Both of these Japanese pieces were arranged by Wendy Bross Stuart, an ethnomusicologist, music director, composer/arranger, piano accompanist, and vocal coach. Stuart earned an advanced teaching license in shamisen and koto following many years studying traditional music in Japan.

The program continues with Tomás Luis de Victoria’s Duo Seraphim, Felix Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 and As the Hart Longs, Josu Elberdin’s Ubi Caritas, and Michael John Trotta’s Veni, Veni Emmanuel. The chorus will also perform Raghupati Raghav, a popular Hindu song arranged by Mark Fish, with assistance from Rohini Chakravarthy. Raghupati Raghav was famously sung by Ghandi and his followers as they made the 241-mile Salt March to Dandi.

Paying tribute to the Native American legacy is the Cherokee Amazing Grace. One of the most recognizable songs in the English-speaking world, the hymn also has great significance for the

Cherokee. Almost 70 years after its first publication in 1779, thousands of displaced Cherokees sang the hymn as they were forced to relocate to Oklahoma, honoring those who perished along the Trail of Tears (1838-1839). Ragazzi will perform it in the Cherokee language. 

Founded in 1987, Peninsula-based Ragazzi Boys Chorus is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premiere music and performance organizations for boys. Currently, there are more than 200 singers from over 100 schools in 30+ Bay Area communities participating in the program. Ragazzi means “boys” in Italian and is the term used in opera to refer to children’s voices. Ragazzi has performed with the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, Opera San Jose, West Bay Opera, Lawrence Pech Dance Company, Symphony Silicon Valley, Masterworks Chorale, and the Stanford University Symphonic Chorus. The group has toured throughout the United States and internationally. In 2000, Ragazzi was honored for its contribution to the San Francisco Symphony’s triple Grammy Award-winning recording of Stravinsky’s Perséphone, and has five CDs available: A Holiday Collection, Canciones de Alabanza, Magnificat: My Spirit Rejoices, Splendors of the Italian Baroque, and I Dream A World. For more information on Ragazzi Boys Chorus, visit