Music of two most performed choral composers of the 21st century, the British John Rutter and the Pacific Northwest Native Morten Lauridsen, will be heard in the 40th anniversary concert of the Davis Chorale on Saturday, May 19, at 7 p.m. in the Davis High School Brunelle Hall.
The singers represent the ecclectic style which the chorale has learned to love. While adhering to tradition, they speak with a freshly contemporary idiom. The tight, often seemingly dissonant harmonies and frequent shifts in keys and rhythms never fail to remain melodious and to create effects of uncommon beauty and spirituality.
The centerpiece of the program, John Rutter’s “Requiem,” has special meaning for the chorale, because it started from a collaboration with John Rutter in the 1980s. In March 1985, the chorale premiered four of the Requiem’s movements at Fremont Presbyterian Church in Sacramento.
Rutter wrote the soprano solo Lux Aeterna with Rachel Kessler, the founder of the Davis Chorale and also the soloist at that concert, in mind. This time, Kessler’s daughter Carol Kessler will sing the soprano solos. Seven months later, the complete work with seven movements was performed in Dallas, Texas. “Requiem” has since become John Rutter’s most widely performed choral work. It is a meditation on themes of life and death and gives hope for eternal peace and light, requies aeterna et lux aeterna.
“Lux Aeterna” is also the title of the piece by Morten Lauridsen. It was first performed in 1997 and expands on the theme of “light in five movements,” drawn from a variety of Latin texts. Its transcendent and highly emotional quality is achieved by a chantlike structure which recalls medieval religious music. However, unlike early music, which is typically monodic, Lauridsen creates complex polyphonic harmonies of great richness.
“Requiem” and “Lux Aeterna” are accompanied by a full chamber orchestra.
A third piece, “Song for Athene,” from 1994 by the late English composer John Taverner, a contemporary of Lauridsen and Rutter and like them born in the early 1940s, is sung entirely a cappella. A funeral song from 1993, it received world attention when it was later performed during Princess Diana’s funeral. Written in a style that was once dubbed “holy minimalism,” it is of a haunting simplicity and spirituality.
The concert is directed by the Davis Chorale’s Artistic Director Alison Skinner and supported in part by a grant from the Davis Civic Arts Commission. Tickets, $15 general and $10 students, are available online through Brown Paper Tickets, at the door, or at Watermelon Music in Davis.
For more information, visit www.davischorale. org