Duruflé’s shimmering, evanescent Requiem

Last week, Dianne got a chance to see a performance of the Conspirare Symphonic Choir, with Victoria Bach Festival Chorus , June 5, 2010.  “Dynamic Convergence” — including Duruflé’s  Requiem, Cantos Sagrados (Sacred Songs) by James MacMillan, and Brahms’ Geistliches Lied.

Featuring Craig Hella Johnson and Company of Voices, with Judith and Gerre Hancock (organists), Keely Rhodes (mezzo soprano), and David Farwig (baritone)

~posted by Dianne Donovan, KMFA announcer and host of Classical Austin

I’m always thrilled to listen to the Conspirare choir perform, and it was especially exciting to have the opportunity to hear The Conspirare Symphonic Choir joined by The Victoria Bach Festival Chorus sing Maurice Duruflé’s shimmering, evanescent Requiem.  Accompanied by Judith and Gerre Hancock, and led by Craig Hella Johnson, the large ensemble combined precision and artistry in executing Duruflé’s rich harmonies and ethereal textures. The Brahms piece was equally lovely.

I was not familiar with the MacMillan piece and it came as a lovely surprise (in the first half of the program). The contemporary Scottish composer’s “Sacred Songs” were inspired by poems about political repression in Latin America, the first of which, MacMillan set in a strikingly dark and agitated manner. Although the texts for all three songs contain a stark realism, MacMillan changes the textures in each song, sometimes layering the latin text with English, and creating beautiful sonorities with overlapping voices, eventually elevating the listener to a state of grace even in these stories of horrific turmoil. This is a challenging, emotional work and the ensemble delivered it beautifully.

If you missed this concert, the good news is that Conspirare has one more concert in Austin this season. They will be performing Johann Sebastian Bach’s masterpiece, Mass in B minor, this Sunday, June 13th, at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. (Click here for more information.)

Dianne Donovan is KMFA’s midday announcer and host/producer of Classical Austin. You can listen to a new episode of Classical Austin every Wednesday at 8pm, on Classical 89.5, KMFA-FM.

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