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French Flair! More from Eric

posted Jun 4, 2014, 2:13 PM by Bob Rudi   [ updated Sep 5, 2014, 2:41 PM by admin user ]

20 May 2014

Some years ago, during the time I was Director of Music at First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, OH, Chris and I hitched a ride on a tour bus from our hotel in Rome to the airport in Fiumicino, Italy. We were at the airport on a Sunday morning to catch our flight to Paris. Because we checked in so early for our flight, we were given the opportunity to “bump” to an earlier flight – which we did. Because we arrived in Paris so much earlier than we expected, we were able to attend mass and hear the organ improvisation that follows the mass at the great church of Saint-Sulpice. Fantastic! Great, grand edifice, incredible acoustics, and that growly, massive Cavaille-Coll organ. Following mass, we walked over to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, and got there just in time to hear a concert by the Singing Angels of Cleveland, Ohio! This was a group I had not ever heard in their home of Cleveland (where I worked) but, through twist of fate, heard all the way over in Paris, France!

I tell you all this because the great cathedrals of Paris are the backdrop for and a major influence on the literature for the next season of CPOS – particularly the church of Saint-Sulpice. Independently, both Gabriel Faure (1845-1924) and Louis Vierne (1870-1937) spent some time working with the famous Charles-Marie Widor at Saint-Sulpice – Faure as choral director and Vierne as assistant organist. Faure was there for a few years before taking his ultimate church position at Church of the Madeleine. Vierne spent time at Saint-Sulpice before winning the job at Notre-Dame. Generally, in the French cathedrals, there is a large pipe organ in a back balcony (with no room for singers) and a smaller instrument in the front, behind the altar, that accompanies the choir located there. This architecture had an important influence on both of the works for the coming concert – French Flair!

The REQUIEM setting of Gabriel Faure has become one of the very favorites in the literature, both of singers and listeners. Faure chose to emphasize peace, comfort and hope over and above themes of judgment and justice in his REQUIEM. Faure was known as a talented writer of tunes, and this piece is full of great melodies – from the opening Kyrie, to the beautiful Agnus Dei for tenors, to the powerful Libera Me for baritone and chorus, to the famous Pie Jesu solo and the ethereal In Paradisum for sopranos. Great tunes, interesting harmonies, a bit of drama, and a whole lot of beauty – these are just some of the reasons this piece has become so popular. Don’t miss this opportunity to sing one of the favorites; and invite your friends! We will be using the Hinshaw edition, edited by John Rutter, which uses Faure’s original “chamber” orchestra scoring.

While Louis Vierne was at Saint-Sulpice, he wrote the SOLEMN MASS for liturgical use. Originally scored for choir, organ and orchestra, on the advice of Ch. M. Widor he re-scored it for choir and two organs. This is a work of great drama, power and passion, with great tunes and surprising contrasts. Not too long and not too difficult, don’t be surprised if this becomes one of your favorites. We will perform it in a rather authentic way, with the grand organ in the back balcony of Market Square Church growling away and alternating with the chorus and our little Hungarian portative organ in the front. The audience will get “washed” with sound from both directions.

Rehearsals take place on Tuesdays, from 7:30pm to 9:30pm, beginning on September 9. Concert is November 16 at 3:00pm, with a dress rehearsal with orchestra on November 15 at 10:00am. I hope you can join us for this exciting sequence!

Eric Riley


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