Saturday, March 27, 2010

Standing out in choir practice

Do y'all remember the Messiah sing-along I blogged in December with the Presbyterian church that actually had rehearsals beforehand to teach us the parts? Well, that same church is now letting outsiders join their choir for a concert they're giving in May of the following awesome music:

Also hat Gott die Welt geliebt, by Heinrich Schütz. It's John 3:16 in German, and very beautiful.

And Pater Noster, by Jacobus Gallus Carniolus (who also went by Jacob Handl). A rich eight-part work. I'm singing second alto.

And the Requiem by Maurice Duruflé. It has nine movements so I'll just link to a video of the first two movements and from there you can follow links for the rest of it if you wish. :)

The Requiem that Duruflé (and about 2000 other composers) scored is the traditional Latin Requiem Mass, which means all the words are in my 1962 Missal. For that matter, the Pater Noster's in there too. And even the piece in German would sound very appropriate at the St. Thérèse TLM some Sunday afternoon. In other words, this music is precisely my cup of tea.

The seventh movement is Lux Aeterna, the Communion prayer, which goes like this:

Lux aeterna luceat eis Domine
cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum
quia pius es.
Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine
et lux perpetua luceat eis
cum Sanctis tuis in aeternum
quia pius es.


May light eternal shine upon them, O Lord,
with Thy saints for evermore
for Thou art gracious.
Eternal rest give to them, O Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon them
with Thy saints for evermore
for Thou art gracious.

I heard that prayer on All Souls' Day last year. When I say that I "heard" it, I mean that I read it to myself while the priest prayed it silently. At the TLM that's how we roll. Anyway, for some reason it really got to me; I started crying as I read it. So beautiful. I've remembered the prayer ever since. And THAT'S one of the movements I'm now learning to sing! See why I'm happy about this concert?

Before our first rehearsal, I was secretly proud of being familiar with the Latin texts already. I was even familiar with some of the melodies, because Duruflé's Requiem is essentially an adaptation of the simple Gregorian chants that Catholics sing in church all the time. So I knew the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei, and in their proper context too. Of course I wouldn't BRAG about it, but I was willing to share my knowledge if needed.

So there we were last weekend, running through the Agnus Dei for the first time, singing a phrase I know from Mass, and sure enough, the altos around me starting hitting a wrong note and our director corrected them: "Altos, it's a D flat!" I tried to sing a bit louder to show all the Presbyterians how it's done, and I had the women on either side of me following me, but nearly everyone else still seemed to be getting it wrong. Finally the director had to say, "Altos, here's the phrase," and he played it for us. That's when I realized... that I was wrong. My prior knowledge was throwing me off, because Duruflé doesn't score the phrase exactly the way we sing it in church. He changes it slightly throughout the movement.

Brilliant, Rachel.

I'm just glad the director was too diplomatic to single me out. :)


Linda said...

So when's the concert and how do we get tickets? ( :

Rachel Gray said...

Linda, it's Sunday, May 2 at 4 pm at Calvary Presbyterian Church, 1050 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, CA, 91030, and it's free. (I imagine they'll take an offering.) It would be great to see you there! :)