The concert, entitled “A German Requiem,” will feature two requiems, each composed at a very different period of time. Johannes Brahms’ A German Requiem was written in 1866 and premiered in Vienna, Austria, whereas Chicago composer and teacher Daniel R. Salotti wrote Requiem for the World's Unwanted Children in 2010 and its world premier will be at the April 6 concert.
Brahms assembled the libretto and titled it Ein deutsches Requiem. In contrast to the traditional Roman Catholic Requiem Mass, which employs a standardized text in Latin, Brahms’ text is derived from the German Luther Bible. Although the Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead ("Grant them eternal rest, O Lord"), A German Requiem focuses on the living, beginning with the text "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." from the biblical book of Matthew and the Sermon on the Mount. The Requiem comprises seven movements, making this work Brahms' longest composition. After Handel’s Messiah, it is said to be the most often performed of all choral works.
The texts for Requiem for the World's Unwanted Children come from the Roman rites for the "Mass of the Dead." Salotti uses inspiration from Gregorian chant and 20th century composition techniques to create a sublime musical homage to children. The work is dedicated to all the “alienated, abused, and abandoned children throughout the world,” says Salotti. “It is my hope that it will serve as a living tribute to them all—those that were, those that are, those that will be, and those undreamed of.”
In choosing certain texts for A German Requiem from Luther's translation of the Bible (taking excerpts from both the Old Testament, the New Testament, as well as the Apocrypha) Brahms avoided any specific mention of Jesus Christ; instead, he focuses on the very human sentiments which surround the death of a loved one. A German Requiem deals with the transience of life, the need for comfort and blessing of those who are mourning, the hope of a final resolution, and a blessing of eternal peace for the departed souls. A German Requiem is not intended to be performed as a mass for the dead, but rather as comfort, blessing and consolation about the dead, for the living.
In its performance of A German Requiem, the NWCS will be accompanied by the piano duet of Lori Lyn Mackie and Celeste Rue, with four hands on one piano, and an arrangement Brahms completed in 1871. Ms Mackie serves as the assistant artistic director and collaborative pianist of the NWCS and Ms Rue is a sought after Chicago-area coach/accompanist who works with Lyric Opera of Chicago and Grant Park Music Festival.
Peter van de Graaff, baritone, and Sarah Gartshore, soprano, will be the featured soloists for A German Requiem. Mr. van de Graaff is a program host on WFMT’s “Tuesday Night at the Opera” and “Through the Night with Peter van de Graaff”. He has performed with the Houston Symphony, Chicago Symphony, Utah Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and many others throughout the world. Ms Gartshore is one of Symphony Magazine’s emerging artists and her repertoire includes performances with the Richmond and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestras, Music of the Baroque, and with the Northbrook (IL) Symphony. She is a nine year veteran of The Handel Week Festival of Oak Park (IL).
A complimentary preconcert lecture and discussion of the music will be hosted by chorus member John Morrison at 6:45 p.m. at the church.
Tickets for the “A German Requiem” concert are $20 for adults and $15 for students and seniors and may be obtained online at www.nwchoralsociety.org, by calling 224 / 585-9127 or the day of the concert at the Southminster Presbyterian Church, 916 E. Central Road, Arlington Heights, IL.
“A German Requiem” is the second of three concerts the Northwest Choral Society performs each year. Founded in 1965, the Northwest Choral Society is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the appreciation, understanding and performance of a wide variety of outstanding choral literature. Its adult membership resides in Chicago and the northwest suburbs.
The Northwest Choral Society invites experienced singers to audition to join the organization. Basses, tenors, altos and sopranos with previous choral experience and 17 years of age can obtain additional information about the Northwest Choral Society at www.nwchoralsociety.org.
Northwest Choral Society artistic director Alan Wellman directs the chorus at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights, IL.