Fall 2017 Concert Announcement from Brett

Dear Singers,

It was a great honor to join the Central Pennsylvania Oratorio Singers last season as Conductor in Residence to lead a thrilling performance the choir gave of the Christmas portion of Handel’s Messiah and Bach’s 29th Cantata. It was impressive on so many levels, from the dedication to learning new techniques in the rehearsal room, to powerfully conveying the familiar text in the concert setting, and so much more. I can’t wait to get started on another uplifting season that will bring the Singers to even greater heights. I hope you will join us (and bring your singing friends)!

The centerpiece for this year’s concert is “awesome” in the true sense of the word. It combines vocal writing as great as Palestrina with the deeply passionate harmonic language of the 19th century. Mahler described this composer as “half simpleton, half god” because of the way his music seemed to be able to reach out and move music lovers of any background and bring their hearts toward the divine in ineffable quality. The work we will perform was described by the musical theologian Franz Xaver Witt as “a work without parallel in either 19th- or 20th-century church music.”

Mass in E minor by Anton Bruckner (1824-1896) is the sublime work we will perform. It is a mass setting unlike any other. It is scored for 8-part choir and wind ensemble (and we have lined up phenomenal players of oboes, clarinets, bassoons, horns, trumpets, trombones, and bass trombone). It moves beautifully from the haunting introspective nature of the Kyrie to the soul-satisfying conclusion of the Agnus Dei, with large unaccompanied sections incorporating a sensibility Bruckner probably learned as a choirboy in an Augustinian monastery in Upper Austria close to Linz, where he later returned as a teacher and organist. In fact, this Mass was composed for the dedication of the Votive Chapel in the New Cathedral in Linz in 1869. As with Johannes Brahms, we may know Bruckner for his symphonies, but we love him for his sacred works. You can listen to a recording here.

In selecting this program, I couldn’t think of a better place to present this performance than St. Patrick’s Cathedral in downtown Harrisburg. The grand, reverberant space will give both voices and winds room to soar and breathe this music into life. From the intensity of the pianissimo to the roar of the full ensemble, our audience is likely to experience something exceedingly rarefied and special.

We will be made better as well through learning music and techniques that make us more whole as musicians, made all the sweeter by a learning and preparation process we engage in together as a community of singers. This grand music deserves a grand choir singing in a grand space, and you are just the vocalists for the job!

Rehearsals will be on Tuesday evenings beginning September 12 at 7:00 PM. The Concert will be on Saturday November 11th at 2:00 PM.

Brett A. Terry, Artistic Director and Conductor
Central Pennsylvania Oratorio Singers