This week the choir will sing the Rutter Requiem as part of a Special Music Sunday. John Rutter attended Highgate School in London, where he took part in a 1963 recording of Britten’s War Requiem, conducted by the composer. In 1983 he travelled to the Paris Bibliothèque Nationale to examine a recently-discovered score of Fauré’s Requiem. There he discovered that Fauré’s original version was scored for a small chamber ensemble, and that the piece had only later been reworked for full orchestra. Rutter edited the original version of the Fauré Requiem for publication at the same time that he began composing his own version, and Fauré’s work was clearly inspirational. Rutter composed the work in two separate versions, one for full orchestra and one for chamber ensemble. We will perform this second version on Sunday, scored for flute, oboe, cello, harp, timpani and organ. The solo in the Pie Jesu movement will be sung by guest soprano Lauren Hauser. Rutter combined the traditional Requiem text (sung in Latin) with two psalm settings, of Psalms 130 and 23, sung in English. Dedicated to his father, who had died the year before, Rutter’s Requiem was finished in 1985 and immediately became immensely popular, receiving over 500 orchestral performances in the next six months in the United States alone.
This week — the first Sunday of Lent — the choir sings two anthems, the first a setting by Russell Schulz-Widmar of a poem by the seventeenth-century English poet, Robert Herrick (of “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may” fame). Schulz-Widmar sets Herrick’s devotional lyric, “Sweet spirit, comfort me” to a melody by the eighteenth-century French composer, Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The organ music this week is by Charpentier’s contemporary (and for a brief time colleague at the royal court), Francois Couperin. The second anthem this Sunday is “Haste thee, O God,” by the seventeenth-century English composer, Adrian Batten, a setting of Psalm 70.
This week, as we celebrate the gifts of our youth in worship, the Singers sing two anthems: I Am Hope by British composer Howard Goodall and Christ Be in Your Senses by William Rowan with text by Mary Louise Bringle. I Am Hope is an upbeat song about the many facets of Christ “I am always here I am always near I am hope.” Mary Louise Bringle is a professor of Philosophy, Religion and French at Brevard College in North Carolina. She began writing hymns in 2000 and has won many awards for her poems. In addition to vocal music this week the prelude will be played by Leah Patek on the violin, and the postlude by Nick and Teddy Bird on the piano. The sharing of talents continues with three guitarists: Joey Paulson, Anna Smith and Mark Outlaw adding joy to our hymns.
The Westminster Organ Concert Series continues its 38th season on Friday, February 9, at 7:30 pm, with an organ recital by Albrecht von Gaudecker. A native of Hannover, Germany, von Gaudecker holds advanced degrees in music from the Leipzig Conservatory and has played recitals throughout Europe. Now music director at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Greencastle, Indiana, von Gaudecker served for ten years as organist at St. Paul’s Memorial Church in Charlottesville. His program includes music by Bach, Bruhns, Muffat and Mendelssohn. The concert is free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception.
This week the choir sings an anthem by Malcolm Archer, a former director of music at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and now Director of Chapel Music at Winchester College. His anthem, “And I Saw a New Heaven,” is a setting of the first verses of Revelation 21 in an attractive, neo-Romantic style.
Sunday’s organ music also features some Romantic music, with a prelude by Gustav Merkel, a German organist who studied with Robert Schumann and was greatly influenced by Felix Mendelssohn.