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Chamber Singers & Concert Choir present Gloria in excelsis

Church of the Covenant | Directions

67 Newbury St.
Boston, MA
United States

Dramatic and celebratory choral works in the historic Church of the Covenant, famous for its Tiffany windows, dramatic pipe organ, and rewarding acoustics.

Program notes from Jonathan Richter:

The Gabrieli and the Schütz are from the polychoral tradition of the early Baroque. They are very dramatic works in which “choirs” (vocal choirs, brass choirs, soloists alike) answer back and forth from different parts of the sanctuary in a big surround-sound kind of effect. The Bruckner has a similar acoustic effect but it utilizes a bigger organ and more lush, dramatic Romantic harmonies.

The Britten is a different sort of piece but also has a very celebratory and festive character—almost overwhelmingly so at times. It sets a text by Christopher Smart, a religious poet of the mid 1700s, who wrote the poem while he was in a mental asylum. The text is rather strange, but the 20th century composer Britten sets it in brilliant ways as only Britten can. Though it has some dark elements, the overall tone of the work is uplifting and positive.

—Jonathan Richter, Concert Choir conductor

Program Notes from Erica J. Washburn:

Both works performed by the Chamber Singers are Renaissance a cappella motets, composed by two musicians living at the same time and working/composing in two of the most prolific musical cities in Italy: Palestrina in Rome, in the employment of St. Peter's Basilica, and Gabrieli in Venice, in the employment of St. Mark's Basilica.

Both pieces are beautiful, but I paired them for the specific reason that they highlight the drastic compositional differences which are reflective of the city life of the day. Palestrina's work is beautiful and reserved, in typical 4-part harmony which showcases the text (as requested by the Council of Trent), and inspires outward awe at the grandness of the physical architecture that is St. Peter's. This particular Gabrieli motet, in 8-parts, reflects the exciting and incredibly socially diverse population of the bustling port of Venice. It contains a great deal of polyphonic antiphonal singing, which I think represents the street sounds of merchants, shoppers and travelers within the city.

—Erica J. Washburn, Chamber Singers conductor

Ensembles
  • Chamber Singers
  • Concert Choir
  • Brass Ensemble
  1. Gabrieli: In Ecclesiis

    for choir, SATB solists, 6-part brass, and organ

    Ensembles
    • NEC Concert Choir
  2. Schütz: Alleluja! Lobet den Herren in seinem Heiligtum

    for two choirs, two brass choirs, 8 soloists, and harpsichord

    Ensembles
    • NEC Concert Choir
  3. Bruckner: Ecce sacerdos magnus

    for choir, 3 trombones, and organ

    Ensembles
    • NEC Concert Choir
  4. Britten: Rejoice in the Lamb

    for choir, SATB soloists, and organ

    Ensembles
    • NEC Concert Choir
  5. Gabrieli: Jubilate Deo a 8

    Ensembles
    • NEC Chamber Singers
  6. Palestrina: Sicut cervus, prima parta

    Ensembles
    • NEC Chamber Singers
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