What can a chorus and orchestra do to match the excitement, drive, and over-the-top climactic movement of the youthful Berlioz Messe solennelle heard here in November? Go in the totally opposite direction: forward to two contemporary masterpieces which, in their minimalist and “new age” harmonic language, are squarely in our time, but in compositional technique look far back into western music’s roots in medieval plainchant and Renaissance counterpoint.
Far from the extreme extroversion of Berlioz, both of the choral works we present on March 19th speak in a smaller, more intimate voice, using only string orchestra (Gjeilo) or chamber orchestra (Lauridsen), allowing the chorus to convey the message through text and texture. The two works also draw upon traditional texts, extending their universal appeal both forward and backward in time, as well as broadly, encompassing many faith traditions. Interestingly, both works find their tonal center in D-major.
–Barbara Jones, March 2017