Key Chorale

On Friday, February 10, and Saturday February 11, the 100+ voices of Key Chorale, guest artists Jamal Sarikoki, Suzanne Karpov, and the Key Chorale orchestra will present “A Sea Symphony” Masterwork by Vaughan Williams. The chorus, orchestra and soloists will sing of ships and their captains, wind and waves, the voyage of every human soul, and music so vivid you can almost taste the sea spray in the air.

Vaughan Williams’ setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry from Leaves of Grass and Passage to India elicit thrilling viscerality in its climactic vision of the individual soul sailing forth ‘for the deep waters only, where mariner has not yet dared to go.’ This large-scale symphony was one of the first to incorporate choir throughout the work and is considered one of the mightiest first symphonies ever composed.

“This symphony is one of the most dramatic and epic works in Classical music, said Maestro Joseph Caulkins. “The writing for chorus, orchestra and soloists is virtuosic, incredibly pictorial, and the kind of music that makes the hair on your neck stand up and take notice.”

The 6 years of this symphony’s creation also charted the composer’s parallel journey of self-discovery musically and spiritually. Vaughan Williams had been searching for poetry that transcended the dusty Victorian verse of the day, and immediately recognized American poet Walt Whitman as that unique voice for which he was searching. A great deal of inspiration came to the composer by way of the spiritual mysticism of Walt Whitman’s writing and the metrical freedom and visionary qualities of his poetry.

“The opening of this symphony is one of the boldest and thrilling in the repertoire, said Maestro Caulkins. “It sets off a 70-minute saga that explores not just the sea, but our place within the world. In the third movement, Vaughan Williams finds ways to capture the sounds of the winds and waves in music that can be quite arresting. The other two movements contemplate the biggest questions of life. In the final measures we witness the ship of life slowly and calmly disappearing over the horizon into the unknown, into unchartered waters that is very effective and moving.”

Since its premier in 1910, “A Sea Symphony” has become the benchmark to measure the expertise of great choruses. This work requires a choir able to meet the inherit technical challenges while expressing the powerful depth of emotion within the piece, an orchestra able to play a very difficult and beautiful score, and soloists who can soar to the heavens and take all of us with them. Come an experience all of this and so much more.

Ticket buyers are welcome to join us for a special presentation titled “Sea Change” by Mote Marine President & CEO, Dr. Michael P. Crosby, one hour before each concert. Dr. Crosby will reflect on the importance of the sea as he shares Mote’s mission, its groundbreaking research, ocean conservation, education and plans for its exciting future with Oceans for All.

The performances will take place at the Church of the Palms:

Friday, February 10, 7:30 PM

Saturday, February 11, 4:00 PM

Tickets are $35-$45. For tickets, go to or call the box office at 941-552-8768.


About Key Chorale

Key Chorale, the Suncoast’s premier symphonic chorus, is dedicated to transforming lives through innovative programming, artistic excellence, educational outreach and service to the community. Led by Joseph Caulkins, Key Chorale produces high quality collaborative musical events that engage and enrich our community. Through dynamic collaborations with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, The Sarasota Ballet, The Venice Symphony, The Circus Arts Conservatory, and more, Key Chorale is able to create unforgettable programs that continue to push the boundaries of choral music

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