St. Cecilia Chamber Choir, conducted by Linda Blanchard and accompanied by Sean Fleming, will present Maurice Durufle’s beautiful “Requiem” at 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 6 and 7 at the Second Congregational Church, 51 Main St., Newcastle. The piece will be accompanied by a professional chamber orchestra and will feature Jazmin DeRice, mezzo-soprano, and John David Adams, bass-baritone. Works by Brahms, Finzi, Haydn, Holst, Josquin, Purcell, and Soderman will also be performed.
French composer Durufle set the familiar “Requiem” text to music for choir, orchestra, and two soloists, building on Gregorian chant as the melodic basis throughout the luxurious composition. Known as a meticulous composer with only 14 published works, Durufle penned this piece as a departure from the fire and wrath of other “Requiem” settings, instead illuminating forgiveness, peace, and hope.
For the second half of the program, the choir will make its way through some choral highlights of each century, beginning with two chansons by Josquin Desprez: “El Grillo” (“The Cricket”) and “Mille Regretz” (“A thousand regrets at deserting you and leaving behind your loving face”). Henry Purcell’s “O give thanks unto the Lord, Z 33” will follow, accompanied by string orchestra. “Der Greis,” a part song by Joseph Haydn, will represent the 18th century.
St. Cecilia Chamber Choir will perform two very different works from the 19th century. “Geistliches Lied” is a technical tour de force written early in Brahms’ career. Its soaring word painting evokes Brahms’ later work “Ein Deutsches Requiem.” And a piece for male chorus, “Ett Bondbrollop” (“The Peasant Wedding”), by the Swedish composer August Soderman, extols the more bawdy aspects of nuptial festivities. A piece from Gustav Holst’s “Rig Veda” settings for women’s chorus and harp, “Hymn to the Waters,” and a setting of Gerald Finzi’s “God Is Gone Up” for orchestra, will round out the program.
For more than 20 years, St. Cecilia Chamber Choir has provided challenging musical opportunities and music scholarships for gifted local youth. This year, four high school students are members of the choir and will sing in the spring concerts: Phoebe Pugh, of Alna; Helen Newell and Maya Bailey, both of Newcastle; and Richard Kinney, of Waldoboro. More than 25 gifted young students have sung with the choir since its inception, many continuing to study music in college and beyond.
Advance tickets or reservations are strongly encouraged for this event. Tickets are $20. For more information, go to ceciliachoir.org.