Friday, Mar. 28th, 7:30 PM
in Seattle's U-District
Holy Rosary Catholic Church
in West Seattle
The 2014 Spring Concert series of the Musica Sacra Chamber Chorale, entitled “from Darkness comes Light”, provides the listener a musical journey of the soul from evening shadows to the clear light of morning. It should serve as a wonderful introduction to the Lenten season or Holy Week for all who attend. Scheduled for the last weekend in March, these concerts feature the Chorale accompanied by pianist Kevin Aanerud and the Talvi String Quartet; headlined by violinists Ilkka Talvi, past concertmaster with the Seattle Symphony, and Marjorie Kransberg-Talvi, past concertmistress with the Pacific Northwest Ballet.
The concert opens with Josef Rheinberger’s beautiful Abendlied, Op. 69, No. 3 for unaccompanied choir. The text: “Bide with us, for evening shadows darken, and the day will soon be over” aptly characterizes the starting point of our journey. Kevin and our guest string quartet then join us for Mozart's Misericordias Domini K.222; written for the Elector of Bavaria. Since his boss at the time, the archbishop of Salzburg, had forbidden the use of polyphony, Mozart used this opportunity to justify creating an intricate polyphonic setting for chorus and strings. In its gravity, contrapuntal elaboration, and dark key of D minor, it is strongly suggestive of the fugue that ends the first and last movements of Mozart's Requiem, his final creation.
In Beethoven’s Elegischer Gesang, op. 118 the composer explores a different aspect of our soul’s journey into night, The Elegischer Gesang (Elegiac Song or Song of Mourning) was based on a profound short poem and written to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of a young noblewoman and benefactor of Beethoven who had died in childbirth. The tempo marking Langsam und sanft matches the first word sanft, which means "gentle". This work profoundly expresses the suffering and pain brought by untimely death.
The first half of our program ends with the first of two related selections on this concert series by the New York based Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. The text for Dark Night of the Soul is by St. John of the Cross, a 16th-century Spanish priest, reformer, and mystic. Together with St. Teresa of Ávila, he founded the order of the Discalced (“Barefoot”) Carmelites. It was written soon after his escape from imprisonment by the Church, and describes the journey of the soul as it leaves its earthly prison and travels toward reunion with God. It features the piano as a leading voice in conjunction with the choir and string quartet.
We begin the second half of our program with the opening section from Dimitri Shostakovich'sQuintet for Piano and Strings, op 57. Throughout his life Dimitri Shostakovich dealt with oppression, possible exile, and the constant pull between self expression and toeing the party line. This is why his music is so vivid. The piano quintet is a historical reflection of this time. Written in late 1940, this work subtely mirrors the desire by the people to move from the darkness of oppression to the light of freedom. The Talvi Quartet and pianist Kevin Aanerud perform the Bach-like opening Prelude from the quintet.
Next on our program is Samuel Barber’s exquisite setting of the Agnus Dei. Originally written as the “Adagio for Strings” it is one of the most beautiful acapella works in the sacred music literature. This is followed by Brian Schmidt’s beautiful setting of the Lux Aeterna (Eternal Light). We then bring our string quartet and pianist back for the second of the Ola Gjeilo works: Luminous Night of the Soul. Gjeilo states, “Luminous Night of the Soul was my sequel to Dark Night of the Soul. Both works are independent pieces that can be performed separately, but they are also conceived as two movements of the same work”. We finally find light in our last selection Craig Hella Johnson’s wonderful setting of Light of a Clear Blue Morning. We look forward to having you join us for this wonderful series of concerts.