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A New Requiem

Tracy Clark and Roland Martin

The Freudig Singers debut David Bednall’s new requiem

The Freudig Singers will present a typically intriguing program, featuring a pair of requiems, neither of which is familiar, on Sunday, March 2 at 3pm in St. Joseph’s University Church (3269 Main Street), under the baton of their artistic director Roland Martin.

The focus of the program is the area premiere of a requiem by the young English composer David Bednall, a 2008 work which has only been performed once before in the US. Martin says, “I discovered this requiem through a review of the recording in the BBC Music magazine. What I love about this work is its progression from darkness to light. This happens in the work on a large scale, as from the first movement to the last, but also on a smaller scale, within each movement.

“Bednall has modeled his work on the requiem settings of Faure and Durufle,” Martin continues, “and particularly the latter, although while Durufle’s Requiem is based on plainchant, Bednall does not quote chant in his setting. Nonetheless, the melodic lines flow like chant, and there are places where the listener may imagine them as such. There is a profusion of luscious harmony supporting these sustained melodies and this creates for me many ‘goose bump’ moments in the work. Surprising shifts of key and exquisite, subtle turns of phrase are some of the components that can really melt the heart. He scores it with an unusual accompaniment of organ and viola, and the rich, deep, and sensual sounds of this combination are the perfect sound to support the all-female choral textures. The instruments even have two movements of their own: the Prelude, which establishes some of the thematic material to be heard throughout the work, and Communion, a meditation at turns calm and reflective or dark and turbulent.”

According to Martin, “Bednall doesn’t forget about the terrors of hell aspects, either. There are passages which are truly frightening, not only for the listener, but for the singers and instruments. These places in the work are written in driving rhythms in mixed meters, set with clashing dissonances in the voices. It can be quite difficult to bring off, but the singers are up to it. The young soprano Tracy Clark will be the soloist in the Piu Jesu, while BPO violist Janz Castelo and UB organist Peter Gonciarz will provide the instrumental accompaniment.”

Giacomo Puccini’s very brief, rarely performed Requiem was composed in 1905 and first performed at a ceremony marking the fourth anniversary of Verdi’s death. Long neglected, the manuscript score of the Requiem a tre voci is held in the theatrical museum of Milan’s famed La Scala opera house.

About his Song of Resurrection, written on a poem by Peter Siedlecki, Martin says, “Some years ago Peter approached me about setting a poem he wrote for his wife following a discussion with regard to the meaning of ‘hallelujah.’ Not the literal meaning, but all it implies, particularly with regard to the resurrection. He’s a very natural poet, and his language follows thought in a very inevitable way. I took the poem with me on vacation, got to it, and in no time it was finished. I have always told him it was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done. I am usually a very slow worker when writing, but this was such a natural act for me…it practically set itself. The poem is very unconventional and very different from the typical ‘churchy’ poetry one encounters in so much sacred music. His words are at once unique, inspired and inspiring.”

British composer Gerald Finzi composed his 1951 song, “Let us now praise famous men,” on the famous line from the Book of Ecclesiastes during the first period of hospital treatment for the Hodgkin’s disease that eventually resulted in his death at a sadly premature age. Despite these circumstances, the resulting work has been described as tunefully optimistic in its bright march-like character.

Suggested donation is $10.

The resAUnance Trio resurfaces at the Pausa Art House

Okay, so what happens when three classically trained musicians, who also happen to be accomplished composers, get together to create a wildly new inventive approach to cool jazz?

When percussionist John Bacon and ultra-hip pianist Michael McNeil combine with Istanbul-born Esin Güdüz, the currently Buffalo-based queen of ethereal vocal improvisation, the result is the kind of musical evening that years later, you’ll regret missing. And if, by the way, these guys aren’t enough of an incentive to get you off of your couch and out to the Pausa Art House on Thursday, March 6 at 8pm, they will be performing for the first time with new music trumpeter Dave Ballou and with University of Michigan French horn player Adam Unsworth, who owned this venue in a strictly classical music appearance last fall.

Tickets are $7 general admission, $5 for students. For more information, visit

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