U.S. Premiere of Tsunami Requiem and Faure’s original Un petit requiem
Musica Sacra Cantorum Performs with Canterbury Girls Choir,
and First Brass of Sarasota, on April 13, 2015
[Sarasota, FL—March 27, 2015] Musica Sacra Cantorum, Sarasota’s only choral ensemble dedicated solely to the performance of sacred music of all traditions, caps off the season on Monday, April 13 with a program titled “Deux Requiems: The Sleeping Children,” at 7 PM at Church of the Redeemer (222 S. Palm Avenue, Sarasota.) Collaborating with Musica Sacra Cantorum in this rich program are the Canterbury Girls Chorus and First Brass of Sarasota. Tickets for $25 in advance can be purchased online www.MusicaSacraCantorum.org or by calling 941.405.7322. Tickets purchased at the door are $30.
Tsunami Requiem by Chris Williams
Premiered at the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Tsunami Requiem, by British composer Chris Williams, recalls the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami that devastated Nagapattinam, a fishing village in Tamil Nadu, South India, which left more than 230,000 people dead in its wake. Williams has a natural affinity for the Subcontinent and was living in India when the tsunami struck.
Tsunami Requiem tells that story in contrasting moods utilizing the musical forces of an adult chamber choir, children’s choir, and brass ensemble with percussion. From an effervescent opening recalling the joy and excitement of Christmas Day, the work moves to a lilting lullaby as night falls and the children prepare for bed. The world turns topsy-turvy in the third movement and the brass and percussion evoke the earthquake and formation of the devastating tidal wave which quickly moves toward the coastline bringing the tremendous death and destruction so vividly recalled in the aural fireworks of the fourth movement, Tsunami-Dies Irae. The work ends with a Threnody or hymn of mourning set to the text of the Agnus Dei, “Lamb of God, have mercy on us, Lamb of God, have mercy on us, Lamb of God, bring us peace.”
There is a marble sculpture by artist Francis Chantry titled “The Sleeping Children” located in Lichfield Cathedral, Staffordshire, UK, where Musica Sacra Cantorum served as a visiting choir in July 2014, which inspired the theme for this program. It is hard to imagine a more moving tribute to loss of innocent life than this sculpture created in memory of two young sisters nestled in each other’s arms in eternal sleep. This program on April 13 provides a unique pairing of two compelling requiems, a musical form historically set to the Latin text for the Catholic mass for the souls of the dead. By the late 19th and 20th century, composers were creative in their use of and substitutions of the church text to create musical tokens of remembrance and reflection.
The program opens with Gabriel Fauré’s tremendously popular Requiem in d minor, op 48. “The twist is that we will be presenting it in its original 1887 setting, when it premiered as Un petit requiem,” says Musica Sacra Cantorum’s music director and conductor, Dr. Robert Parrish. “It calls for only a chamber chorus, accompanied by small string ensemble, and will be sung in Gallican Latin, as Faure originally intended.” Parrish further indicates that their performance will be a great opportunity for the many who find Faure’s Requiem so delicious to experience this more intimate version.
In this original version of the Requiem, there are five movements with organ and strings, while Fauré added two more movements as well as a larger orchestration in later versions. Yet, Fauré was not the one who adapted the Requiem to the Ecclesiastical Latin it is sung in these days. It was not until well into the 20th century after Fauré’s deaththat the French moved to performing in the more common Latin form.
About Chris Williams
Chris Williams began his musical career at the age of eight as a chorister at St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Having won a scholarship to study Music at New College, Oxford, he went on to study postgraduate composition and piano at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he won several prestigious prizes, including the Royal Philharmonic Prize for composition.
He has lived in India since 2002, firstly as Composer-in-Residence at the Lawrence School, Sanawar, for whom he wrote a musical play, The Coolie’s Tale, to celebrate the centenary of the Kalka-Shimla Railway. Back in 1981 he had written a musical adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Kim for the school, which toured all of India.
In 2004, he moved to Bangalore, and has earned his living by playing the piano, and, by accident, has become an actor and model, appearing in two Bollywood films, corporate films and adverts. In 2004, he was Musical Director of Stand Up, Noah Small!, performed by children from 19 schools in Bangalore. In 2008, his Songs of the Coromandel Coast and Tsunami Requiem were performed at the Royal Festival Hall, London, by the English Philharmonia Orchestra and Chorus. Over 500 children from Solihull sang his Stage Songs in the Royal Albert Hall in 2005. Recently, English Philharmonia published Chris’s Nowell! Nowell!, a Christmas resource for choirs, along with a CD.
About Musica Sacra Cantorum
Musica Sacra Cantorum is two choral ensembles in one organization. At its core, it is an ensemble of highly talented and skilled professionals dedicated to the highest levels of musical artistry. This is Voices, our professional ensemble. These professionals join talents with highly qualified volunteers to comprise Musica Sacra Cantorum Chorus. The Chorus is the vehicle that presents the larger scale orchestral supported masterworks, such as the two requiems we present this season.