Transcendent Voices – music from the chamber players

Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra concert series

For the last concert in this winter’s Chamber Players series, Maestro Norman Nelson, the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and Chorus, and the Victoria Children’s Choir will present Mozart’s Requiem and Hans Krasa’s Brundibar, a children’s opera, on Saturday, April 9 at Edward Milne Community Theatre (8 p.m.), and Sunday, April 10 (2:30 p.m.) at New St. Mary’s Church in Metchosin (4125 Metchosin Road).

Both works are interesting for the circumstances of their writing and early performances.

Brundibar, “bumblebee” was first performed in 1941 in German-occupied Prague, by children at the Jewish Orphanage. In 1943, the piano score of Brundibar was smuggled into Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, and adapted by Krasa (interned in 1942) for the instruments available in the camp. The opera was performed 55 times in Theresienstadt by the children there. A special performance was staged in 1944 for representatives of the International Red Cross who came to inspect the camp, which had been temporarily fixed up for their visit. Most of the participants, including Krasa himself, were transported to Auschwitz and perished.

Mozart died before he could complete his Requiem, in 1791. It was a commissioned work, not intended for himself. However, he was ill, and thoughts of mortality must have been in his mind. How much of the work is completely his and how much was filled in or even created by others is a source of controversy for musicologists to this day.

The genesis of both works is dark, but the music itself is not. Brundibar is scored for flute, clarinet, guitar, accordion, piano, percussion, four violins, cello and double bass. The story is a kind of fairy tale, about children who need milk for their ill mother, and who are helped by a sparrow, a cat, a dog, and other village children. Mozart’s Requiem is, of course, a well-known, much-loved and much-performed work.

Soloists in the Requiem will be: Madeleine Humer, Soprano; Michelle McKenzie, Mezzo Soprano; Delwynne Windell, Tenor; and Sam Marcaccini, Bass. The Victoria Children’s Choir is directed by David Stratkauskas.

Norman Nelson will be, as usual, on the conductor’s podium for both concerts.

Please visit  www.sookephil.ca for information about the Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra.