N I G H T
And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This season is dedicated to night. In particular, to four nights in which music plays an important part in remembrance, healing and reconciliation. These four nights celebrate the contemporary human condition with music that runs the gamut of emotions, and invites you to reconsider death, birth, and poverty, along with music that transcends the mundane.
Cycle 1 Dark, dark night
Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 8:00 PM Marsh Chapel, Boston University
Sunday, November 2, 2014 at 4:00 PM Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston
For our first cycle we celebrate the two Christian festivals that occur on our actual concert dates: first, All Saints day (November 1), and second, All Souls Day (November 2). We broaden our understanding of these days beyond the Christian concept and invite you to come and remember the saints who have enriched your life and the souls who have gone before you, without whom you would not exist. We sing music to soothe your soul and help you through the dark, dark night of death. Our program includes a piece for All Saints by the celebrated renaissance composer Carlo Gesualdo, and the extraordinary Funeral Ikos by John Tavener, a piece that uses vivid imagery from the Greek Order for the Burial of Dead Priests set to music of unearthly beauty. Finally, we sing the Requiem, Op. 9 by Maurice Duruflé in the version for choir and organ. Based on the plainchant for the Mass for the Dead, Durufle’s music is powerful and evocative and has been a popular piece with choirs and audiences since its composition in 1947.
Cycle 2 Still, still night
Saturday, December 20, 2014 at 4:00 PM Old South Church, Boston
Our annual holiday concert celebrates the release of our new CD of Christmas music, entitled Still, still night. Loosely based on the traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols, this concert follows the Christian story which we develop to a more inclusive celebration of birth and motherhood. This candlelight concert also includes carols for choir and congregation using the fine organ in Old South Church, and many arrangements of secular carols to get you into the holiday spirit!
Cycle 3 Cold, cold night
Friday, March 20, 2015 at 8:00 PM Oberon Theater, Cambridge
Friday, March 27, 2015 at 8:00 PM Oberon Theater, Boston
Hans Christian Anderson's story of "The Little Match Girl" is a modern passion setting that describes the cold, cold night in which a poor girl freezes to death. David Lang’s 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning setting for choir and percussion instruments has received extraordinary popular and critical acclaim. Using only the most minimal musical material Lang has created a piece that is not only contemporary and relevant, but also profound. This concert also features the world premiere of the short opera Riding on a Train at Rush Hour by Samuel Beebe, winner of our 2014 competition for a new work. This piece is the first in a series of 10-minute operas for choir that BCE is commissioning in the next few years.
Cycle 4 Long, long night
Saturday, June 6, 2015 at 8:00 PM First Church, Cambridge
Sunday, June 7, 2015 at 4:00 PM Holy Cross Cathedral, Boston
The theme of our final cycle is the long, long night, not just in a literal understanding, but also in a metaphysical one that relates it to the span of human life. We celebrate precious life and the journey we travel, but we link to the themes of resurrection and rebirth from our other concerts and reflect that our journeys have meaning and truth. The music we sing includes Taverner’s five-voice motet Dum transisset Sabbatum (1575), which celebrates the resurrection of Jesus and, to bring our season full circle, we sing his famous setting of Audivi vocem, which we heard in a setting by Thomas Tallis in our first cycle. John Taverner (1490-1545) was widely regarded as one of the most important composers of his era. A former organist of Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford, he composed mostly vocal music and was both innovative and creative in his use of harmony and counterpoint. We juxtapose the music of the renaissance Taverner with the modern one, celebrating the life and work of John Tavener (1944-2013), who claims lineage to his illustrious predecessor. Tavener’s haunting and spare music has touched many with its beauty and grace. We reprise his Song for Athene (sung at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales), and we include music from his extraordinary cycle Ex Maria Virgine for choir and organ. We will repeat this concert as part of the 2015 Boston Early Music Festival Fringe.