All Saint's Requiem held Nov. 1

On All Saint's evening, Friday, November 1 at 6 PM, the adult choir of Christ Church will present John Rutter's (b. 1945) REQUIEM. They will be accompanied by Dr. Steven Taranto, organ; Dr. Diane Schultz, flute; Sky Kim, oboe; Sarah Vander Wal, cello; Kathryn Hoppe-McQueen, harp; Michael Strange, timpani; and Nathan Rearick, Glockenspiel. The Saint Cecilia Singers, one of our children's choirs, will provide the opening voluntary.

Here is some detailed information about the composer and his REQUIEM:

JOHN RUTTER was born in London in 1945, the son of an industrial chemist and his wife. He was first educated at Highgate School and later, while still an undergraduate at Clare College, Cambridge, had his first compositions published, including "Shepherd's Pipe Carol" which he had composed at age 18. He served as director of music at Clare College from 1975 to 1979 and led the choir to international prominence.

In 1981, Rutter founded his own choir, the Cambridge Singers, which he conducts and with which he has made many recordings of sacred choral repertoire (including his own works), particularly under his own label Collegium Records. He currently resides at Hemingford Abbots in Cambridgeshire and frequently conducts choirs and orchestras around the world.

In 1980, he was made an honorary Fellow of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, and in 1988 a Fellow of the Guild of Church Musicians. In 1996, the Archbishop of Canterbury conferred a Lambeth Doctorate of Music upon him in recognition of his contribution to church music.

From 1985 to 1992, Rutter suffered severely from myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME, or chronic fatigue syndrome), which restricted his compositional output; after 1985 he stopped writing music on commission, as he was unable to guarantee meeting deadlines.

Rutter also works as an arranger and editor. As a young man he collaborated with Sir David Willcocks on five volumes of the extraordinarily successful Carols for Choirs anthology series.

Though he is perhaps best known for his carols and other short pieces, John Rutter also has a number of large-scale works for chorus and orchestra to his name. Most of these received their first performances in the United States, where Rutter is a frequent visitor, writing regularly for American choirs and conducting performances of his own music.

His REQUIEM, completed in 1985, does not adhere strictly to the conventional Catholic liturgy, but combines texts from the Requiem Mass and the Book of Common Prayer. This is by no means unusual; Fauré, Brahms and Duruflé all followed their own individual preferences when selecting appropriate verses for their Requiem settings.

The first movement is comprised of the Requiem aeternam and Kyrie eleison. This is followed by a setting of Psalm 130, ‘Out of the deep have I called unto thee O Lord’ which begins darkly with an unaccompanied cello solo in C minor, later giving way to a more positive C major at the words ‘for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption’. As with the Requiems of both Fauré and Duruflé, the Pie Jesufocuses on the soprano soloist, though in this case with the addition of a subdued choral commentary. The Sanctus and Benedictus are both followed by an exhilarating Hosanna. In the Agnus Dei the Latin text alternates with verses from the Burial Sentences, taken from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. At this point Rutter inserts his superb setting of the 23rd Psalm, notable for its plaintive oboe solo, delicate orchestration and sensitivity to the text. This exquisite and moving piece, though composed some seven years earlier for the First United Methodist Church Choir of Omaha, was surely destined for this context, encapsulating as it does the work’s message of reassurance. The last movement opens with another verse from the Burial Service, sung by the soprano soloist, which leads seamlessly into the Lux aeterna, finally returning to the opening Requiem aeterna theme for the peaceful conclusion.

The Requiem was first performed in its entirety on 13 October 1985 at Lovers’ Lane United Methodist Church, Dallas, Texas, conducted by the composer. Since then it has become a firm favorite with choirs and audiences the world over. Though it necessarily has its dark moments, Rutter’s Requiem is unmistakably optimistic in its message of hope and comfort, expressed through the beauty of the chosen texts and Rutter’s uplifting music. It is not entirely surprising that after the tragic events of 9/11 it was this setting of the Requiem that was the preferred choice of music at the many memorial services which followed all across the USA.

Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”

“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” Rev. 14:13 (NIV)

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