ENCINITAS – Cappella Gloriana will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a concert and fundraiser July 17 at 4 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Encinitas.
The professional chamber choir was the creation of composer and conductor Dr. Stephen Sturk, and opera singer and professor Dr. Virginia Sublett.
“We were looking to form a group in 1996 of like-minded singers with a good background as soloists who enjoyed singing ensemble music,” Sturk explained. “We cajoled our friends who were leading soloists around town. Then, we got the idea of adding some students to our mix, people we would groom to step into our position as master singers.”
Today, Cappella Gloriana is San Diego’s longest-lived chamber choir with an impressive record of live concert appearances throughout southern California, world premieres, commissions and CD recordings.
Concertgoers will experience Christmas in July with the release of the group’s new CD, “A Renaissance Christmas.”
“The CD was partially recorded in the Mission San Luis Rey,” said Sturk. “It is a space that was made for this type of music with wonderful acoustics.”
Selections from the Christmas CD will be performed along with Sturk’s own compositions, musical hits and original pieces from the group’s inaugural concert at St. Andrew’s 15 years ago.
Sublett will serve as a guest director for a couple of pieces. She is returning to San Diego from Fargo, N.D. where she has been a professor of voice and opera at North Dakota State University since 2004.
Sturk explained how St. Andrew’s became the venue for the group’s debut concert in 1996.
“Virginia and I were colleagues years ago at St. James by the Sea in La Jolla,” he said. “I was music director and she was soprano. Then she became musical director at St. Andrew’s. After she got her job at North Dakota State, I took her place at St. Andrews.”
Patricia Minton is also a founding singer and board member who has served as outreach artist and soloist for the group since retiring from the San Diego Opera in 2008.
“Choral music has become very popular in the form of the TV show ‘Glee,’” she explained. “That is ‘show choir.’ We preserve the classics in chamber choir music, performed by 8 to 16 people.”
She added that Cappella Gloriana is a niche within the larger choral movement.
“I particularly like early music and ultra contemporary music because I find the sound to be very pure,” she said.
Acappella means sung without accompaniment by instruments, Sturk explained.
He added that the name “Cappella Gloriana” pays homage to Queen Elizabeth I, who reigned during the Tudor period, a rich, artistic time in England’s history.
“Gloriana was her nickname,” he said. “In our early concerts we presented a lot of English music from the Tudor period so we decided to take the name ‘Gloriana’ in honor of her.”
Increasingly, Cappella Gloriana has found fans outside the area. In 2003 and 2005 the group went on tour in Germany. They have also performed in the Los Angeles area, Palm Springs and Yuma, Ariz. Next season they have a concert scheduled in Pasadena.
“We consider ourselves to be based in San Diego,” Hinton said. “But we are seeing if we can build a fan base out there and are testing the waters.”
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is located at 890 Balour Drive. All ages are welcome to the event, which includes a cake and champagne reception following the concert. Suggested admission is $15 at the door. For more information call (619) 990-5751.