OVERLEA, MD – On Sunday, May 12 (Mother’s Day), 22 members of Overlea High School’s Honors Chorale will perform in the U.S. premiere of a groundbreaking “community opera” – Jonathan Dove’s The Monster in the Maze – presented by Baltimore Choral Arts Society.
The Monster in the Maze is one half of a show, titled Captivity to Liberty, which will feature a total of 200 performers. The show will also feature Mendelssohn’s Die erste Walpurgisnacht. Tickets for the 3 p.m. show are available at the Choral Arts website, and the show will be presented at Kraushaar Auditorium at Goucher College, 1021 Dulaney Valley Rd., 21204. (A pre-concert Choral Conversation will begin in the auditorium at 2 p.m.)
“The production is pretty intense, and our students have a major presence,” said Kellie Zephir, Overlea High’s choral director and piano instructor. “They will be portraying Athenian youth who must cross Crete so that Theseus can kill The Minotaur and thereby save them from being sacrificed. As they sing, they will also be carrying a rope that becomes a labyrinth and becomes the arena for the major battle. It’s a very innovative production.”
Zephir, a former member of Choral Arts, explains that the group normally produces concerts and sings symphonic works with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Taking on such a large and complex production as Captivity to Liberty is outside its norm. However, “its musical director, Anthony Blake Clark, is trying to press the limits of what singers in Baltimore do.”
In addition to the singers from Overlea High, the production involves several lead singers as well as the Baltimore Choral Arts Orchestra, Larks of the Junior League of Baltimore, Maryland State Boychoir, Muse 360 (a youth arts organization), and Peabody Youth Orchestra. (Overlea High French teacher Laura Redfurn is a Choral Arts member and will be singing in the show.)
According to Zephir, Clark approached her last May to invite the Overlea Honors Chorale to be a part of the production. “I organized this school year around it,” Zephir said. “The students have been learning music and staging all year, and we have been going offsite to practice with others in the show. This week, every evening, we take a van over after eating dinner so that we can rehearse.”
Even before the big day, Zephir can see that this experience is having a significant impact on her students. “It is blowing their minds,” she said, “expanding their horizons about what is possible with singing. Experiencing the diversity of music and particularly what is happening in classical music is exciting for our students.”
Zephir notes that every year a few Overlea students think about pursuing music professionally. “But in my nine years at the school, only three students have pursued further studies or careers in classical music. That might expand because of the exposure to this experience.”
Because the production is taking place on Mother’s Day, Choral Arts offered each Overlea High performer one free ticket for their mothers and a discounted price for their family members.
The relationship between Choral Arts and Overlea High extends beyond this performance. Members visit the school each year to host a workshop to help students prepare for their singing adjudication.