Master Chorale to sing on Friday
About 271 years separate the first performances of Handel's "Dixit Dominus" and the Robert Ray "Gospel Mass." One was written in Italian baroque style, the other in the style of a gospel spiritual. One is accompanied by instruments that are plugg...
About 271 years separate the first performances of Handel's "Dixit Dominus" and the Robert Ray "Gospel Mass." One was written in Italian baroque style, the other in the style of a gospel spiritual. One is accompanied by instruments that are plugged in, one by instruments that are not.
What they both have, said Joshua Bronfman, artistic director of the Grand Forks Master Choral, is vigor.
Both pieces, each about 30 minutes in length, will be performed at the next Master Chorale concert at 8 p.m. Friday in First Presbyterian Church, Grand Forks.
Handel was 22 and living in Rome in April 1707 when he completed "Dixit Dominus," a setting of Psalm 110.
"I'd say it's a flawed piece," Bronfman said. "It's too loud, and it's too high, and it's too fast, but really, the loudness and the highness and the fastness is what makes it so cool."
Bronfman said "Dixit Dominus" is beautiful and catchy music, really vigorous with aggressive qualities not seen in his later music.
"It has a youthful energy to it that's really exciting," he said.
The Robert Ray "Gospel Mass" has the same feel to it, he said. Its addition to Friday's program was a last-minute change, a replacement for Victoria's "Missa O Quam Gloriosum." Bronfman said he and the choir members decided to sing "Gospel Mass" on Friday because they didn't think they could properly prepare the Victoria piece in time. Getting ready for "Dixit Dominus" had taken more rehearsal time than he anticipated, Bronfman said.
The Master Chorale first performed "Gospel Mass" two years ago, so many of the chorus members are familiar with it.
Robert Ray's "Gospel Mass" was composed in 1978 and premiered at the University of Illinois, performed by the University's Black Chorus. The work was Ray's interpretation of 2,000 years of liturgical tradition with the more contemporary music of the African-American Church.
"There will be some soloists and improvisation," Bronfman said. "It's definitely not straight choral music. It has a lot of flash and vim and vigor."
Among the soloists for Friday night's program will be Sergio Miranda, Connie Stordahlen and Stephanie Knabe.
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