Alex Canovas / Artistic Director

RE/Sonance: a mass for the dead, a concert for the living

Following are program notes from RE/Sonance, the mixed ensemble’s final 2013-14 season concert.

Choral music directly addresses the human experience, from human mouths to ears, without need for the irony and detachment of our post-modern world. It is a living, proto-modernist art. There is no need to shake the dust off of this music for it is liberated from time and trend, and resonates with the stuff of the earth and stars. Our finalist for the 10th Annual Competition for Young Composers have selected gorgeous texts which complement both the meaning and sentiment of a 20th century masterpiece: the Duruflé Requiem. Each of them contributes to the overarching lesson of the competition: that in any thematic context, choral music is fresh, surprising, and alive.

Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) was not a prolific composer. His creative output consists of only fourteen works, yet his six pieces for choir are among the most performed in the repertoire. He was a noted performer, premiering the Poulenc Organ Concerto in 1941 and touring the world. At the age of 25, he was appointed Assistant Organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, and at 28, he began a forty-year career as the organist at St. Entienne-du-Mont. The Requiem began as a series of organ pieces based on Gregorian Chants, which he then reworked. The chants remain prominent, sometimes as a cantus firmus and other times woven discretely into the vocal lines or accompaniment. The Duruflé Requiem famously has some big moments, but it is not garish like many of those written in the 19th century, nor is it bleak or political like other famous Requiems of 20th century. In this way, it remains both popular and influentially modern; text and melody, presented simple with impressionist gestures, is not dissimilar from the sacred minimalism that has come to be a dominant force in classical music in the 21st century.

— Michael Kerschner, Artistic Director

Categories: Michael's Musings, Mixed Chorus

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