Join music lovers and amphibiophiles Sunday afternoon, May 16, from 2:30 to 5:30
at the17-acre Mt. Madonna estate  of Sam and Terry Wright for a gala New Music Works
al fresco concert. Among the highlights will be NMW founder Philip Collins’
Frog Requiem,
a piece for 11 instruments, soprano and narrator, dedicated to
those frog species which have succumbed to extinction in recent years. 

 The benefit concert—performed in a bona fide frog pond—will be preceded by a tasting of wines and hors d’oeuvres from top restaurants and winemakers , combined with a tour of the Wrights’ English garden. A donation of $100 per person is requested, 100% of which will go to support the  New Music Works non-profit founded by Collins 31 years ago.  Tickets may be reserved by calling Barbara Burkhart at 335-1429.

 Composer Collins was moved to write the requiem by “the magical world of frog sounds, pitches, rhythms, timbres, textures and articulated nuances” which he heard when a friend gave him the Smithsonian recording, “Frog Calls of North America”  a few years ago.    Many of these recorded sounds and calls are included in Collins’ Requiem, and some are from species now extinct. Experts say up to 200 frog species have disappeared in recent years because of habitat loss, invasive species, and over-harvesting for the pet and food trades, so a requiem is sadly appropriate.

 Collins wanted to create a memorial that sang to the lost frogs in their own tongue.   “I imagined the music as if it were a miniature evening ceremony that I happened upon.   The first sounds heard are the craggy, staccato calls of the Barking Tree Frog, who, like an elderly deacon, announces the commencement of the ritual.”

 Over the course of eight movements, Collins incorporates formal aspects of traditional requiem mass services in his piece to create an emotional progression from grief, through remembrance, finally arriving at acceptance and celebration.

 Although Frog Requiem  has been heard in concert halls in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, and broadcast at herpetology conferences throughout the U. S., this will mark the first time the music will be joined by a live audience of frogs. 

 The Wrights’ classical English Garden, once an apple orchard, is devoted to trees, lawns, hedges and water features, divided into a series of botanic groupings such as the rose garden, dramatic white garden featuring a variety of white-blooming perennials, cutting garden, vegetable garden, and native plant area and redwood grove.  

 Guests will be seated in a shaded grove surrounding the Pond, where Cheryl Anderson’s Cantiamo singers will perform a medley of frog songs composed by Norman Dinerstein preceding Collins’ Frog Requiem.

 Winemakers whose signature vintages will be offered for tasting include Salamandre, Windy Oaks, Alfaro Family Vineyards, Silver Mountain and Storrs.  Providing specialty hors d’oeuvres for tasting are Ristorante Avanti, Gabriella, Café Cruz, Ma Maison and caterer-restaurateur Mimi Snowden.