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Charpentier's Litanies de la Vierge 

When: Wed., June 2, 5 p.m. 2010
Price: $25-$37
www.spoletousa.org

French twist
The fabulous Westminster Choir is on a French kick this year (see above), and this push continues with a special program featuring several of Baroque master Marc-Antoine Charpentier's deeply spiritual settings of Litanies de la Vierge (Litanies of the Blessed Virgin), works that rank near the top of French sacred music of its period. We'll hear a number of Charpentier's nine different versions of the title texts, scored for various combinations of soloists and choral voices. Supporting instrumentalists will come courtesy of the vaunted Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra.

Bring on the men
Since the choir's ladies get to strut their stuff by themselves in Proserpina, the men must've felt left out — and so the second half of the evening's program will be devoted to assorted music for men's voices. We'll hear a mass for male voices by Renaissance hero Josquin des Prez, plus a work called Double Dedication by leading Estonian composer Veljo Tormis. Then there will be a series of pieces and arrangements by legendary American choral guru Robert Shaw, including some that were very popular decades ago, but are rarely heard nowadays.

Choral fans unite
If you're a choral nut, book your seats now, unless you want to fight over scalpers on the steps of the cathedral. Baroque-era music with instruments is a rarity from these vivacious vocalists, so don't miss it.

— Lindsay Koob

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