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CHICAGO A CAPPELLA
Frank Lloyd Wright once likened architecture to “frozen music”; he wrote in detail about how the structures and ornaments of music inspired those of his buildings. He’d grown up listening to Unitarian hymns and chorales–his father and uncle were both Unitarian ministers–and he intended his Unity Temple, built in Oak Park in 1908, to see service not only as a church and a secular meeting place but also as a venue for concerts. Appropriately enough, Chicago a Cappella, a top-notch nine-voice chorus led by bass Jonathan Miller, has chosen the temple as the setting for “Music in the Life of Frank Lloyd Wright,” a program that promises to fill Wright’s beautifully resonant space with songs that very likely would have inspired him. Miller scoured the archives of the south side’s All Souls Church, where Wright’s uncle had served as minister, to compile a list of hymns popular with its congregation around the turn of the century, when Wright worked in Chicago; he also tackled Wright’s multivolume autobiography hunting for references to composers the architect admired. The organic simplicity of Palestrina and Bach, for instance, endeared them to Wright, so Miller has selected motets and choral pieces from each, as well as a hymn from Beethoven, another of Wright’s idols. To show off Chicago a Cappella’s widely praised eclecticism, Miller has also scheduled Jerry Troxell’s conservative but well-crafted Prayers of Steel (1992)–a setting for a poem by Wright contemporary Carl Sandburg–and unearthed a ditty decrying pomposity written by Wright and his third wife, Olgivanna. The chorus has turned it into a doo-wop tune, providing an irreverent contrast to the program’s wealth of liturgical music–and proving that the man can be celebrated in something other than a posture of supplication. The concert will be narrated by actor John Nygro with illustrative quotes from Wright. Friday, 8 PM, Unity Temple, 875 Lake, Oak Park; 708-383-7599 or 800-746-4969. TED SHEN