Choral Society Performs The Requiem

Reviewer: Mark DeWolf-Ott

Venue: First Presbytarian Church

The Saginaw Choral Society performed two impressive classical works on Wednesday, March 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in Saginaw. The choir was accompanied by brass, percussion, and organ.

The first piece was Gloria by English composer John Rutter and was debuted in Omaha NE in 1974 by the “Voices of Mel Olsen”, a group of educators, artists, professionals, and student singers from eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. It is sometimes performed at Christmas time because of the opening movement “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”. It consisted of three movements with the fast, slow, fast symphonic style. It was lively and fast paced. The pace was so fast it seemed that the Conductor, Jeremiah Kraniak, was going to whip himself off his podium. The choir was well rehearsed being that it was in Latin. Unfortunately, the brass and percussion sometimes overwhelmed the choir and the organ. All in all, it was well executed.

The second composition was Requiem written Maurice Duruflé, based on Gregorian chants. In 1945, Duruflé’s father died. This gave impulse to the composition of his greatest work, the Requiem, which was also his first work after the war. Published in 1948, it was dedicated to the memory of his father. It consists of nine movements loosely following the Mass of the Dead. It had some sophisticated and complex harmonies and a brief soprano solo, Pie Jesu, in the middle sang by Erin Whitfield. She did an excellent job. This work was also in Latin. The Requiem was accompanied by the Casavant Fréres pipe organ, which First Presbyterian is fortunate to have. It was played by Carl M. Angelo. The piece usually takes 90 minutes to perform. The SCS was somehow able to squeeze it in at about 40 minutes. Shorter, but still as sweet.  One can’t imagine standing on my feet to sing for that length of time.

It was quite a night for music! The concert was appropriate for the Lenten season, beginning with the birth of Christ and ending with a funeral Mass. The large crowd completed the evening with a well-deserved standing ovation.

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