A UNIQUE PAIRING: Messa di Requiem/English Choral Music

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OUR NEXT PERFORMANCE:  Pizzetti’s Rarely Heard Requiem/English Choral Music

The St. Charles Singers’ season-finale concert will feature the choir’s first-ever performance of Italian composer Ildebrando Pizzetti’s “Messa di Requiem,” an early 20th-century masterpiece that will occupy the concert’s first half.  Music critics have called it “very listener friendly” and “a work of great beauty and sincerity” that “deserves to be far better known.”  “Requiem,” an unaccompanied work in five-movements completed in 1923, combines late Romantic harmonies with neo-Renaissance polyphony and Gregorian chant.

 For contrast, part two of the concert is devoted to English choral music.  Especially noteworthy says Jeff Hunt, the choir’s founder and music director, is Benjamin Britten’s virtuosic “Hymn to St. Cecilia” for five-part choir and soloists, from 1942, with text by poet W. H. Auden.  Hunt calls it “remarkable, one of the finest pieces of choral music ever written.”  Audiences will hear “sophisticated use of word-painting, with the melody emulating what’s happening in the words.”

The concert will conclude with choral arrangements of English folk songs. From the two-volume Oxford Press collection “Folk-Songs for Choirs” come Edward Bairstow’s arrangement of “The Oak and the Ash,” Donald James’s “Strawberry Fair” and others.  Hunt will also lead the choir in selections from Oxford’s “A Fancy of Folksongs,” a set of four choral arrangements, with harp or piano accompaniment, by composer Cecilia McDowell.

Concerts will be at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W. Division St., River Forest, Ill.; and at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 29, at Baker Church in St. Charles.

Tickets and Information:  Single tickets for all concerts are $35 adult general admission, $30 for seniors 65 and older, and $10 for students.

 Tickets and general information about the St. Charles Singers are available on this site or by calling (630) 513-5272. Tickets are also available at Townhouse Books, 105 N. Second Ave., St. Charles (checks or cash only at this ticket venue). Tickets may also be purchased at the door on the day of the concert, depending on availability. Group discounts are available.