Jeremy Gill was an up-and-coming Philadelphia composer before he defected to Boston a couple of years ago. The Gill compositions I’ve heard combined deep feelings with interesting, expressive music. This Saturday, the vocal group Variant 6 offers Gill’s latest, commissioned by them, based on texts that reflect the tension between doubt and faith: the Pensées of the French philosopher Blaise Pascal.
The members of Variant 6 are all soloists and choristers who sing with Philadelphia groups like Choral Arts, the Crossing, and Piffaro. Soprano Jessica Beebe was the guest soloist for Piffaro’s 2017 Christmas program (here’s our review), and she and soprano Rebecca Myers contributed major solos to the latest Choral Arts New Year’s Eve concert (here’s our review).
The two sopranos and their fellow singers formed a vocal sextet in the same way string players form string quartets, with the same kind of objectives. They can perform smaller-scale pieces and present programs that reflect their own interests and personalities. Gill’s premiere will share the program with psalms composed by the Renaissance master Claude Le Jeune; motets by the contemporary Scottish Catholic composer James MacMillan; and a meditation on snowy nights that Francis Poulenc wrote during the hard European winter of 1944.
After shows in Boston and New York, Variant 6 will present Six Pensées de Pascal and other vocal works in Philadelphia on Saturday, January 13 at 8pm at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church (19 South 10th Street). Tickets ($25; $15 for students and industry members) are available online and at the door.
At right: The voices of Variant 6. (Photo by Andrew Bogard.)