Soli Deo Gloria to Celebrate 20th Anniversary Season in New York, 5/4-5
The esteemed classical sacred music foundation Soli Deo Gloria-"to God alone be the Glory"-named for the Latin inscription frequently used by Johann Sebastian Bach on his manuscripts, has chosen to celebrate its 20th anniversary in early May in New York City with major performances of two significant commissions.
On Sunday afternoon, May 4, 2014, 2:30 p.m., award-winning Scottish composer James MacMillan's "Since it was the day of Preparation," co-commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria, will be performed by the St. Bartholomew's Chamber Singers and an intimate instrumental ensemble consisting of clarinet, horn, harp, theorbo, and cello under the baton of William K. Trafka at St. Bartholomew's Church, Park Avenue at 51st Street. Based on English passages from the Book of John and material from ancient Latin hymns, "Since it was the day of Preparation" is an hour-long, program-length work named for a passage in the Resurrection story. Artists will include bass-baritone Jeff Morrissey, principal soloist, who will sing the role of Jesus, as well as Choir soloists Amanda Sidebottom, soprano; Eliza Bagg, alto; Christopher Carter, tenor; and Jason Whitfield, baritone. This United States premiere follows the 2012 world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival which was reviewed by Scotland's The Herald: "The music ranges in mood from austere to warm and tender, from the purity of intensity to relaxed expansiveness." The Times of London characterized the work as "wonderfully rich in its musical tapestry."
The next day, Monday, May 5, 2014 at 7:30 p.m., launching the popular "Spring for Music" Festival, Alan Gilbert will lead the New York Philharmonic at Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium, in the New York premiere of Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Christopher Rouse's "Requiem," commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria. Joining the Philharmonic will be baritone Jacques Imbrailo; the Westminster Symphonic Chorus, Joe Miller, conductor; and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Dianne Berkun-Menaker, Artistic Director. The commission for Rouse's "Requiem" was born of the close friendship between the composer and Soli Deo Gloria's Founding Artistic Director, Grammy Award-winning conductor John Nelson. Rouse had been composer-in-residence for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra during the time Nelson was its music director. They shared a deep admiration for French composer Hector Berlioz. The "Requiem" was originally intended to be performed in 2003 in honor of the 200th anniversary of Berlioz's birth. Circumstances changed the timing of the premiere and the 90-minute work was first heard in 2007 performed by the Los Angeles Master Chorale. The Los Angeles Times called it "an extraordinary score," and "the first great traditional American Requiem."
Tickets for the May 4th performance of James MacMillan's "Since it was the day of Preparation" are $25 and $15 for students & seniors and are available by calling 212 378 0222 or visiting www.mmpaf.org. Tickets for Christopher Rouse's "Requiem" are $25 & $12.50 and are available by calling 212-247-7800 or by visiting www.carnegiehall.org.
In search of works to continue the great choral tradition of such masterpieces as Bach's "St. Matthew Passion," Handel's "Messiah," and Brahms's "Requiem," Soli Deo Gloria was created in 1993 for the purpose of preserving, enhancing and promoting classical sacred music throughout the world. In referring to the founders of Soli Deo Gloria, Joseph A. LoSchiavo, President and CEO, remarked "As musically astute people of deep faith, they lamented the 20th century's lack of sponsorship for substantial sacred commissions; who in today's world could possibly fill a role once played by the Church and the royal houses of Europe?" Soli Deo Gloria's central activity has been the commissioning of new compositions of classical sacred music; to date it has commissioned 35 works written by composers from all over the world.
Based in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, Soli Deo Gloria sponsors sacred concerts and recordings on CD and DVD, in addition to funding the creation of new works. Recent commissions include Aaron Jay Kernis's "Glorious Majesty" (Psalm 104), one of 15 works commissioned as part of Soli Deo Gloria's Psalms Project. The VocalEssence Ensemble Singers gave the world premiere in October 2013 in Minneapolis. The organization's newest recording project is a Soli Deo Gloria-funded DVD of Nelson conducting Bach's "St. Matthew Passion" at the St. Denis Festival near Paris, released in 2013 to international critical acclaim; now available on Blu-ray. A highlight of Soli Deo Gloria's concert activities includes the Chicago Bach Project, begun in 2011. Each spring Soli Deo Gloria presents a one-night-only event in which Maestro Nelson conducts an international cast of vocal soloists and top-tier Chicago orchestral musicians and choristers in one of J.S. Bach's monumental sacred masterworks.
Scottish composer James MacMillan is one of the most compelling composers of sacred music today. His "St. John Passion" was jointly commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra; "Since it was the day of Preparation" picks up from where his "St. John Passion" left off. Mr. MacMillan first came to world attention with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra's premiere of "The Confession of Isobel Gowdie" at the Proms in 1990, based on the story of a woman who was executed for witchcraft in 17th century Scotland. He has written a percussion concerto for fellow Scot Evelyn Glennie which was premiered in 1992 and has become one of MacMillan's most performed works. As an indication of his international stature, he was asked by Mstislav Rostropovich to compose a cello concerto which was premiered by Rostropovich himself in 1997. In 2007 he went on to win a Royal Philharmonic Society Award. Mr. MacMillan's most recent work "St. Luke Passion," also co-commissioned by Soli Deo Gloria was premiered on March 15, 2014, at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and is slated for its U.S. premiere on April 13, 2014 at Duke University.
Winner of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize, Christopher Rouse was named Marie-Jose?e Kravis Composer-in-Residence at the New York Philharmonic for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 seasons. He has been performed by most important orchestras in the United States and abroad, including the Berlin Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras, and the Austrian Radio Orchestra. The New York Times has described his oeuvre as "some of the most anguished, most memorable music around," and Stephen Wigler of The Baltimore Sun stated: "When the music history of the late 20th century is written, I suspect the explosive and passionate music of Rouse will loom large." Recent highlights include the world premieres of the Requiem (2007, by the Los Angeles Master Chorale), Concerto for Orchestra (2008, by the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music), Oboe Concerto (2009, by the Minnesota Orchestra), and Odna Zhizn (2010, by the New York Philharmonic). His Symphony No. 3 was premiered by the Saint Louis Symphony in May 2011. Mr. Rouse wrote "Seeing" for Piano and Orchestra for Emanuel Ax on commission from the Philharmonic, which gave its premiere in May 1999.