Friday, March 5, 2010 7:30 PM
Come to the Cathedral and join us for the second in the series of Lenten Concerts given by the National Cathedral’s concert ensemble, Cathedra.
In this evening’s program are two very different settings of the Requiem, the first by the polyphonic master Tomas Luis de Victoria and the second by the twentieth-century composer Herbert Howells. The program will also include the anthem Take Him Earth for Cherishing composed by Howells to commemorate the death of J.F. Kennedy and the Crucifixis pro Nobis by the English composer Kenneth Leighton. The 16-part setting of the Crucifixus text by Antonio Caldara will open the program.
In the Crucifixus Caldara spins out each of the 16 parts like threads of the smoothest silk, and he weaves them together in the intricate patterns and colors of the mature Baroque style. Victoria’s Missa pro defunctis (or Requiem) of 1605 was composed for the funeral of Dowager Empress Maria. While the music suits the somber nature of the occasion, it also has an uplifting effect, suggesting the immediate ascent of the soul to heaven.
Three hundred years later, Kenneth Leighton and Herbert Howells—pillars of twentieth-century British choral and organ composition—took less traditional perspectives on the subjects of crucifixion and Requiem Mass. Leighton’s powerful cantata Crucifixus pro nobis sets four mystical poems from the seventeenth century to anguished music for solo tenor, choir, and organ, and concludes with his famous setting of “Drop, drop, slow tears.” Howells’s music offers a glimpse at the raw, intensely personal side of grief. He sheds the traditional Latin Requiem text in favor of a reinterpretation of musical grieving, drawing from the death of his own nine-year-old son.