Bel Canto opens the season with a gentle Requiem and joyful Gloria

The group will perform the pieces at Christ King Parish, where the church setting will well-serve this exuberant works. Plus: a preview of what's to come for the rest of the Bel Canto season.

By - Oct 25th, 2013 12:38 am
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Bel Canto with Milwaukee Symphony in a performance at Christ King Parish

Bel Canto with Milwaukee Symphony in a performance at Christ King Parish.

The Bel Canto opens its season with two twentieth century religious masterpieces: Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem and Francis Poulenc’s Gloria. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra will join in the performance this Saturday at 7:30 at Christ King Parish in Wauwatosa.

Most often when an orchestra is available, singing groups will select showcase requiems by Mozart, Verdi or Berlioz. This requiem by Duruflé dials down the theatrical approach. Instead, it serves as a meditation to comfort the living, adding elements stressing the ideas of grace and paradise rather than the Dies Irae (wrath of God), as do other requiems. Duruflé’s Requiem builds in harmonic material from Gregorian chant, but with contemporary variations. The Bel Canto will offer a version with a reduced orchestra, which allows the organ to stand out. This magnificent work is the most lovely of the Requiems and Duruflé’s greatest composition.

Winds and brass will return to the stage for Poulenc’s Gloria. Poulenc often wrote tongue-in-cheek, inventive compositions intended to delight – influenced by jazz and cabaret styles. This is no less true of the Gloria – often a celebratory work with bright sections featuring horns and winds. Although not a traditional religious interpretation, Poulenc does reflect an intense faith in dark, mysterious sections alternating with exuberant passages.

Each work seems particularly appropriate to the Bel Canto. These are performance pieces to savor and might be less effective in a symphony hall with larger forces. The location is also well suited for soloists – baritone Gerald Sundberg and mezzo-soprano Nicole Warner will feature in the Requiem, and soprano Rebecca Whitney will solo on Gloria. Read the program in advance here.

The Bel Canto’s next concert is their popular Christmas appearance on December 14 and 15 at the Basilica of St. Josaphat. As well as the usual mix of holiday music, the Bel Canto will premiere a large scale work by music director Richard Hynson. The Bel Canto Boy Choir and the Stained Glass Brass will be featured.

The Bel Canto participates in January 19th in a King Day celebration in collaboration with Holy Redeemer Institutional Church of God in Christ. The Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra will offer a chamber work. The Holy Redeemer and Bel Canto choruses will combine for inspirational free-form gospel music.

On March 9th, the Bel Canto will feature two contemporary religious works – James MacMillan’s Seven Last Words from the Cross and Morten Laurisen’s Lux Aeterna. And the season closes with an audience favorite: Carl Orff’s secular masterpiece, Carmina Burana. The infectious music is nonetheless unsophisticated. Hynson will recognize that point by limiting accompaniment to tuned percussion – featuring two pianos and tympani.

Advance tickets may be purchased online or by calling 414-481-8801. The Christ King Parish church is located at 2604 N Swan Boulevard in Wauwatosa.

Categories: Classical, Music

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