On MONDAY, February 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the CATHEDRAL of ST. HELENA, the Helena Symphony continues its 58th Season and the next performance the Exergy Masterworks Concert Series with music of quiet and inspirational reflection.  Continuing its tribute to powerful Requiems this season, the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale will perform Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem of reassurance and hope.

“Through the requiem mass, composers have been able to confront and express their ideas of death and an afterlife in many unique ways,” explains Music Director Allan R. Scott.  “Mozart’s controversial Requiem suggests death is more about judgment, while Verdi offers dramatic opera-like images of and desperate pleadings to a larger-than-life being in his Messa da Requiem.  Fauré’s Requiem is untouched by the grandiose visions, dramatic contrasts, and apocalyptic images.  Instead, he evokes a mood of serenity, emphasizing mercy and hope.”

In addition to a unique orchestration of only bassoons, horns, harp, organ, violas, cellos, basses, and only one solo violin (performed by Concertmaster Stephen Cepeda), the Helena Symphony Orchestra & Chorale are joined by popular Helena baritone soloist Kevin Mathews, and nationally-noted soprano Saundra DeAthos.  A Helena favorite, Ms. DeAthos has appeared with the Helena Symphony Orchestra numerous times, including her recent appearance in the title role of Puccini’s Madame Butterfly in 2011.

The performance in the Cathedral opens with one of the most mesmerizing works composed in the last fifty years.  The world outside of Poland first became aware of Henryk Górecki’s music after the 1991 recording of Górecki’s Symphony No. 3, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs (composed in 1976), topped the Billboard charts, selling over a million copies.  Today, Górecki’s music offers a directness and emotional impact that has established him as a major figure of contemporary music. Górecki, who recently died in 2010,  consumes the listeners with waves of ethereal sounds.  “Górecki almost creates a transition from the earthly world to another place where time stands still,” explains Maestro Scott.  “When the angelic-like soprano soloist enters in each movement (performed by Ms. DeAthos), the work becomes personal and at times heart-breaking.”

For each of the three movements, Górecki uses three different scenes to transport listeners: in the first movement the Virgin Mary speaks to her Son dying on the cross; in the second movement, Górecki uses an inscription scrawled on the wall of a cell in a Gestapo prison by an 18 year old Polish girl in 1944 writing to her mother; and the final movement describes a mother’s mourning for a son lost in war.

Despite the fact that many listeners and scholars have attempted to explain the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs as a response to a political or historical event (namely the Holocaust or World War II), Górecki has maintained that the work is an evocation of the ties between mother and child.  “It’s not about war,” says Górecki, “it’s a normal symphony of sorrowful songs.”

“The allure of this music is not just based on the beautifully tragic songs of lament,” explains Maestro Scott.  “It may be because of the irresistible spiritual hypnosis that Górecki imposes on us.  The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs forces time to stop as the work seems to drift off into an infinite space.  We are forced to hang on until the music lets go of us.”

Tickets for this performance are extremely limited, given the seating limitations in the Cathedral.  All seats are RESERVED.  For tickets or more information, contact the Helena Symphony at 406.442.1860 , on line at helenasymphony.org, by calling the Symphony Box Office (406.442.1860), or at the Symphony Box Office located at 48 Hibbard Way, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

1 Comment

  • Alen,

    Holy Toledo, Batman. I had expunged this from my meomry. In fact, this Dies Irae movement had not been orchestrated until 2 days before the dress (chorus/vocals had been finished long before, and that’s the only form in which I knew this piece when I arrived in Seoul!). When we conductors complain about the last-minute, on-the-spot nature of new music, we’re not kidding

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