Key Chorale opens season with a rare work of Handel

Singers from the community join Key Chorale, Sarasota’s only Symphonic Chorus, and members of the Sarasota Orchestra in a live performance of Handel’s oratorio Alexander’s Feast (The Power of Music)

SARASOTA, FL, October 3, 2016 – Key Chorale, Sarasota’s Symphonic Chorus will present “Alexander’s Feast” featuring Key Chorale, singers from the community, professional soloists, and members of the Sarasota Orchestra, conducted by Artistic Director Joseph Caulkins, Saturday, October 29, 4 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, 104 S. Pineapple Avenue, Sarasota. The concert will be the culmination of the third annual Sarasota Choral Festival, which attracted 200 singers last season. Tickets are $35. For tickets and info visit or call 941/921.4845

This event begins a year-long celebration of Artistic Director and Maestro Joseph Caulkins’ 10th Anniversary titled “Peak Performances” and is part of the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota’s two-week festival of arts and culture, InspireSarasota!” The featured work, “Alexander’s Feast” by George Frederic Handel, was composed in 1736 in honor of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. “Handel conducted nearly 30 performances during his lifetime,” said Maestro Caulkins. “It is amazing to think that 280 years have gone by since its premiere, and yet this dramatic work is still thrilling audiences with vibrant and colorful storytelling.”

And a colorful story it is, as the Macedonian conqueror, Alexander the Great celebrates with a banquet after defeating the Persian Empire. With his mistress Thaïs by his side, Alexander is charmed by the musician Timotheus, who by the sheer power of music, arouses a wide range of emotions from charmed to intoxicated, saddened and love-sick to rage and fury. Ultimately, Thaïs and Timotheus incite Alexander to burn down the city of Persepolis to avenge the Greeks slain in past wars. Fortunately, St. Cecilia descends to Earth just in time to calm the fury and set it all straight with her divine hand.

Joining Maestro Caulkins and Key Chorale will be guest soloists Christina Bristol, Brad Diamond, and Todd William Donovan. “This is a very talented trio of singers with a lot of experience performing Baroque repertoire,” said Caulkins. “Christina is an emerging artist who performed this work with the Los Angeles Master Chorale in April. Her lyric, ringing vocal quality is a perfect match for Handel’s florid melodies. Todd is the other end of the vocal spectrum. His big booming bass voice fits the role of Alexander like a glove.” Rounding out the trio is frequent collaborator Brad Diamond. “Brad is my favorite tenor for this style of music,” remarked Caulkins. “I am always struck by his commanding tone and agility with fast, virtuosic passages.”

The soloists and festival chorus will be accompanied by a chamber orchestra made up of Sarasota Orchestra members. Handel uses the standard sized orchestra of his day with strings, oboes, bassoons, harpsichord and organ, saving the horns, trumpets and timpani for the most dramatic moments. Handel’s rich and colorful orchestration creates many varied timbres and textures. Unlike operas of that time, the chorus plays a central role. “Listeners will definitely hear those “Messiah” moments we have come to love from Handel,” commented Caulkins, “but also surprising sounds like a eerie band of Grecian ghosts, a buoyant dance about the “happy pair,” and even a thunderstorm that will rouse even the sleepiest of concert goers.”

The performance is the finale to the weeklong Sarasota Choral Festival. In it’s third year, the festival gives singers from throughout the community, the opportunity to prepare and perform a great choral masterwork under the guidance of a master teacher. Many singers come back each season to experience the joy and excitement that comes from singing with 200 voices. “It is a way for Key Chorale to impact our community in a tangible way.” said Caulkins, “Singing is an ennobling activity that elevates your soul. Even though it is only a few days, the sound we create together is very powerful.”

It is a perfect opportunity for singers who are unable to commit to a full season of rehearsals and concerts, retirees, students, small choral groups, and those worried about doing an audition. The festival format includes the opportunity for private voice coaching sessions and informational programs in between rehearsals on the concert day, and a vocal technique master class by soloist and voice teacher Brad Diamond. All singers high school age and older are invited to participate by registering online or calling (941)-321-7372. Registration is open through October 16, 2016.


2016 – 2017 Season “Peak Performances”
Celebrating Artistic Director & Maestro Joseph Caulkins’ 10th Anniversary
Sarasota Choral Festival Oct 25, 28, 29
Alexander’s Feast by Handel Oct 29
Holiday Concert Nov 27
Mozart with Mary Wilson Feb 11
Cirque des Voix® Mar 24, 25 & 26
Tomorrow’s Voices Today May 5

About Key Chorale

Since its inception in 1985, Key Chorale has been performing and promoting choral music of the highest quality that embraces the character of our community. The chorale is comprised of 110 auditioned voices with a professional base of section leaders and core singers. Under the direction of Artistic Director Joseph Caukins, Key Chorale has become a producer of high quality collaborative musical events that support and embrace the talents of our community. Caulkins has planned a season of “Peak Performances” that bring his love of mountains and music center stage with three masterworks concerts, a world premiere of a musical suite commissioned by Key Chorale from composer Ola Gjeilo to accompany NEA award recipient and world-class aerialists Dolly Jacobs at Cirque des Voix® in Sarasota and Washington, D.C., the third annual Sarasota Choral Festival, and fourth annual collaboration with the Sarasota County schools for Tomorrow’s Voices Today.

For more information, visit

About Joseph Caulkins

For the past 9 seasons as Artistic Director, Joseph Caulkins has consistently delivered innovative concert experiences through adventurous programming, unique collaborations, community outreach and performances of new and rarely heard works. Joseph has taken audiences to unexpected heights including: the world premiere of “The Lake Isle” by Ola Gjeilo; a dramatic performance of Richard Einhorn’s dynamic oratorio, “Voices of Light,” written to accompany Carl Dreyer’s 1928 silent film classic “The Passion of Joan of Arc,” the US premiere of James Whitbourn’s “Annelies,” a setting of the “Diary of Anne Frank,” which the Sarasota Herald-Tribune called a “Triumph;” and the highly acclaimed Cirque des Voix®.

For more information, visit