St. Martin’s Chamber Choir concludes its 2017-18 Season (our 24th) this coming weekend with a penetratingly poignant concert on the twin themes of Remembrance and Redemption.
The centerpiece of the program is a work that I have adored for decades, but never got around to programming. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that one of the impediments is that I’ve been a bit intimidated by it. Herbert Howells’ Requiem is that piece — a work of haunting beauty and pathos. In recent write-ups I’ve cited what has been the accepted wisdom for decades — that the Requiem was Howells’ very personal working out of the grief associated with the death of his son. Recent research by Howells’ biographer Christopher Palmer, however, has conclusively proven that the Requiem was written two years before his son died. Still, as Howells returned to the thematic material, and the spirit, of the Requiem in writing his later and larger “Hymnus Paradisi” with orchestra, it is fair to say that the Requiem is still deeply and intimately connected to this personal grief. Coupled with the placid “They are at Rest” of Edward Elgar (written for an anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria), these represent the “Remembrance” portion of the program.
Falling under the “Redemption” theme are the haunting “Lo, the full, final sacrifice” of Gerald Finzi — an extended meditation on the mystical nature of the Eucharist (text by the 17th century poet Richard Crashaw, a contemporary of George Herbert) — and “The Prodigal,” Mack Wilberg‘s 2016 Passion-like setting of the well-known parable. Both of these works are haunting and soul-searching, but ultimately life-affirming and redemptive. These two feature the incomparable Richard Robertson on organ.
It is not an exaggeration to say that I’ve been moved to tears several times already in rehearsals by the beauty of these pieces, and the exquisite way in which the choir has been singing them. If introspection, serenity, and beauty are words you associate with St. Martin’s concerts, these concerts especially are for you!
Tickets are available at the door, and in advance from our website or by calling the office at (303) 298-1970.
- Friday, May 18, 7:30pm, St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral
- Sunday, May 20, 3:00pm, Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Wheat Ridge
I hope to see you there!! And I do not apologize if the choir causes you to cry in these concerts. 😉