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This Presidents’ Day weekend, professional chamber choir Collegium Ancora visits Newport to present “All About that Bass… and Treble!”: a program of choral music featuring works for men’s voices and for women’s voices, as part of the Newport Winter Festival.

Artistic director Vince Edwards has assembled a varied program full of familiar and lesser-known works ranging from the 1600s to the 1900s, including composers from Italy (Palestrina), Germany (Brahms, Rheinberger, Schumann), France (Poulenc), Spain (Casals), England (Le Bas, Rutter), Ireland (Stanford), and the USA (Thompson). But despite the concert’s title, don’t expect any covers of Meghan Trainor. 

Now in its 3rd season, Collegium Ancora is among Rhode Island’s newest ensembles, but has already been called “arguably the best singing group in southern New England”. Stylistically versatile and adventuresome, the ensemble’s last local performance was in July, when they closed the 50th Newport Music Festival with performances of Pergolesi’s poignant Stabat Mater and Vivaldi’s exultant Gloria. 

The ensemble prides itself on bring a professional chamber choir not just in, but for the Ocean State.  This season’s remaining performances testify to that commitment.  They are delivering a modified encore performance of Saturday’s program on Sunday 2/17 in Providence, designed to be inclusive to people of all ages and all abilities.  According to director of operations Matt Hall, “We believe that the arts belong to everyone- but sadly the expectations of concert etiquette end up excluding far too many people. This is a chance for audience members of all backgrounds to enjoy the performance in whatever way feels appropriate to them.”  

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On May 5, Collegium Ancora partners with Providence’s Temple Beth-El to present Handel’s masterful Israel in Egypt, which has not been heard in Rhode Island for 16 years.  Their season closes on June 15 with a free concert in conjunction with RI’s Pride festival, where they will also premiere the winning entry in their inaugural composition contest. That will be the ensemble’s second world premiere of the season, having debuted Canadian Colin Eatock’s “Five Poems from the Great War” on their November concert, which commemorated the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended WWI.

Tickets for Saturday’s 4pm performance of “All About That Bass… and Treble!” are available at https://www.collegiumancora.org/all-about-bass or at the door, where Winter Festival bracelet-wearers will receive a 25% discount. The concert is at Emmanuel Church, 42 Dearborn St. in Newport. 

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