by Michael Caruso

Rae Ann Anderson will lead the Gleeksman-Kohn Children’s Choir of Settlement Music School in concert at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Chestnut Hill. The varied program will include a world premiere of a commissioned score by Philadelphia composer, Roberto Pace, a member of the theory and composition department at Settlement.

Speaking about the commission, which is titled “A Time Machine,” Pace said, “Late last spring,

Ben Auger (a member of Settlement’s board of directors and a volunteer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia) suggested that I compose a piece for Settlement’s combined children’s choir for the annual spring festival at CHOP. He knows my work and, in fact, studies counterpoint and analysis with me. He made one request, which was that the work should have an element of young urban sensibility as well as being modern classical music. Rae Ann Anderson, who conducts the choir, suggested that I map this work in with the theme of time travel. The idea took root in my imagination.”

Settlement’s Gleeksman-Kohn Children’s Choir combines the individual choruses of all six Settlement branches, including the Germantown branch at 6128 Germantown Ave.

The program includes such traditional classical works as Handel’s “O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings,” Mendelssohn’s “Lift Thine Eyes,” “Jazz Songs of Innocence” set to poems by William Blake and music by Bob Chilton, and a tribute to the late Whitney Houston. For more information, call 215-320-2600.

MT. AIRY PIANIST

West Mt. Airy pianist Leon Bates presented a solo recital Sunday afternoon, April 21, in the rotunda of Chestnut Hill’s Woodmere Art Museum. Entitled “My Favorite Things,” the program featured selections by Beethoven, Chopin, Ravel, Schumann, Rachmaninoff and Gershwin.

Bates, who started his piano studies with Irene Beck at the Germantown branch of Settlement Music School, began the recital with a full-toned, well-voiced rendition of the first movement of Beethoven’s “Pathetique” Sonata. The playing was strong on brilliance but weak on dynamic variety on the soft side and lyrical phrasing.

Bates followed the Beethoven with a bold interpretation of the first movement of Chopin’s “Sonata No. 3 in B minor.” Here the pianist phrased the lines expertly and colored the textures vibrantly. His performance of Ravel’s “Alborado de grazioso” from “Miroirs” was technically accomplished but too loud too often. Bates caught the melancholy of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in B minor” and scored a jazzy triumph with William Daley’s arrangement for solo piano of Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.”

‘MASKED BALL’

The Academy of Vocal Arts opened its production of Giuseppe Verdi’s “A Masked Ball” Saturday evening in its Warden Theater in center city. Conducted by the all-scholarship school’s music director, Christofer Macatsoris, and stage directed by Tito Capobianco, the mounting continues May 2, 4, 8 and 11. For any opera lover – or would-be opera lover – eager to see and hear an exciting, traditional presentation of one of the staples of the repertoire, this is a production not to be missed.

Premiered in Rome’s Apollo Theater February 17, 1859, “A Masked Ball” is mature Verdi at the height of his musical and theatrical powers. Based on a libretto by Antonio Somma, it tells the tale of the murder of a Swedish king at a masked ball. Considered too politically volatile by the censors of the Papal States, the setting was changed to colonial Boston, of all places. In recent years, however, most productions return the action to the intended royal court of Sweden. Here the king’s counselor, Renato, discovers that Gustavo III is in love with his wife, Amelia. While their relationship has never been physically consummated, Renato joins conspirators who, for other reasons, seek to murder the king.

Although the narrative is convoluted, it nonetheless inspired Verdi to compose some of his most thrilling yet sensitive music. The dramatic thrust of the score hurtles to its tragic climax, yet Verdi’s ability to delineate character and reveal the turmoil within the hearts of all those characters rings true throughout the opera’s three acts.

Call 215-735-1685 for ticket information.