Tom Strini

Present Music’s Special Thanksgiving arrangement

By - Nov 20th, 2010 05:59 pm
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Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist will be a fitting venue for John Tavener’s mystic Christian music. Photo courtesy of the cathedrals website.

Sharon Hansen’s Milwaukee Choral Artists will sing with Present Music Sunday afternoon, at the new-music group’s traditional Thanksgiving concert. The women’s choir and the new-music group have collaborated often over the years, particularly at this annual event at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

Kevin Stalheim, who often programs wild and wacky rep for his group’s Turner Hall concerts, becomes more serious and meditative at Thanksgiving. He asked Hansen to find something by John Tavener, the British composer noted for his deep religious sensibilty and musical idiom rooted in Russian Orthodox liturgical style.

Hansen quickly found two pieces for women’s choir listed online. So she contacted Tavener’s publisher, Chester Music, London, to order them, on to discover that they only sort of exist.

“The didn’t have the music,” Hansen said. “Tavener himself had given Anonymous 4 special permission to arrange them for their use. They were never published.”

Sharon Hansen

Anonymous 4 is a legendary quartet of female voices; Early Music Now and the old Artist Series at the Pabst have brought them to Milwaukee several times. The group specializes in very early music, but occasionally works with living composers. Hansen knew from Chester that A4’s Susan Hellauer had arranged Tavener’s Lord’s Prayer and Come and Do Your Will with Me, originally for double SATB, for four female voices plus string quartet. And Present Music’s complement for this concert includes a string quartet.

“So I called Sunan Hellauer and said, ‘Hi, you don’t know me, but…,” Hansen said. “She emailed me a PDF of her score. I called Chester and asked how to handle a royalty payment. They charged me for 20 copies of the sheet music. So everyone’s happy.”

Present Music will play and the Choral Artists will sing from copies of Hellauer’s handwritten score. But Hansen made note of the mystic Tavener’s instructions to the performers, and she has passed them along. For the brief Lord’s Prayer: “Sing with an inner serenity and calm that is almost silent.” For the dense, substantial Come and Do Your Will with Me: “The music must be sung with enormous intensity and sonority, casting all into the fire of God.”

Present Music’s Thanksgiving program begins at 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, 802 N. Jackson St. Guest artists: The Milwaukee Choral Artists, the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, the Bucks Native American Singing and Drumming Group.

Ticket Info: PM is encouraging patrons to donate food to benefit Hunger Task Force at the Thanksgiving performance. PM will offer $10 off ticket coupons for Buffalo Nation (Bison bison) with the donation of three non-perishable food items. Food can be donated at the cathedral.

Tickets are $30 and $20, $5 for students. Online sales will remain open until noon Sunday, Nov. 21. This performance is not recommended for children 5 years and younger.

The Program
Srul Irving Glick (1934-2002), Psalm 92 (1999)

Thomas Larcher (b. 1963), String Quartet #3/Madhares (2006/2007), Fourth Movement: sleepless 2

John Tavener (b. 1944), Lord’s Prayer (1999)

John Adams (b. 1947) Shaker Loops (1978)

Jeanne Demessieux (1921-1968), Repons Pour Le Temps De Paques (1962-1963)

John Tavener, Come and Do Your Will In Me (1997)

Srul Irving Glick, Psalm 47 (1999)

Friendship Dance (Please join the dance or remain seated) Traditional

Closing Song (Please stand) Traditional

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