The search for the divine will be reflected in music when the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra presents the Spiritus Chamber Choir in concert.
The moving Te Deum, by Arvo Pärt, will be performed along with the complex, ornamental Gloria, by Antonio Vivaldi, at what promises to be an inspirational evening of music on March 12, at the Red Deer College Arts Centre.
A bonus, the Spiritus Chamber Choir and a strings orchestra will also combine for the world premiere of Benedicite Dominum. The short work by former Alberta resident Zachary Wadsworth is a 10-minute composition based on the Biblical Creation story, as presented in the Book of Daniel.
The young American tenor and pianist, who was a member of the Spiritus Chamber Choir while teaching at the University of Calgary, is one of North America’s most gifted composers. Wadsworth’s music has been performed by the choir at Westminister Abbey for the Queen, at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Centre.
Wadsworth, who now teaches at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., created a mix of old and new sounds on Benedicite Dominum, said Timothy Shantz, the choir’s music director and conductor.
The Latin text is descriptive and “celebrates bringing to life all kinds of different things.” For these reasons, Shantz believes this work fits as a celebratory piece that marks the ensemble’s 20th anniversary this year.
He also believes the Pärt and Vivaldi compositions work very well on the same program. Although the works are dissimilar, both reach out to the divine.
The words to Te Deum are taken from an early Christian hymn of praise, although contemporary Estonian composer Pärt set them to music in 1984. The tonal composition requires three different choruses to sometimes chant and sing separately, and sometimes in combination or in unison.
It’s “serene, beautiful and sublime,” said Shantz, who added when all the voices come together “it’s phenomenal.”
The powerful simplicity of Pärt’s 30-minute work will make the complexity and colour of Vivaldi’s Gloria even more apparent, predicted Shantz.
The Latin verse in Gloria, translated as “Glory to God in the highest” and “Lamb of God … you take away the sins of the world” were written centuries ago, but are still spoken and sung in Christian communities everywhere.
Vivaldi’s music sets these fourth-century verses to 12 sections of music, written during the Italian baroque in 1715. Whether contemplative or dance-like, each section helps brings out the meaning of the liturgical words, said Shantz.
The Spiritus Chamber Choir consists of 35 vocalists ranging in age from their early 20s to their 70s. The award-winning choir has collaborated with many different composers and orchestras over the years and recorded on five albums.
The chamber orchestra accompanying the singers will be made up of strings, as well as trumpet, oboe and keyboards. Several members of the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra will be included, as well as other players.
Tickets for the 8 p.m. concert are $67.35 ($57.35 seniors, $47.35 students, first three rows) from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.