The Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo’s Musical Offering
Maundy Thursday, often also referred to as Holy Thursday, is the Thursday before Easter and is one of the most significant days in the Christian Church Calendar. It commemorates both the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles, and the Maundy, or the washing of the feet of the Apostles by Jesus. The name ‘Maundy’ is taken from the first few Latin words sung at the ceremony of the washing of the feet, “Mandatum novum do vobis…” and the commandment of Christ that we should imitate His loving humility in the washing of the feet.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo on Elmwood at West Ferry will celebrate Maundy Thursday this week at 7pm with a special hour-long musical service, as UUCB Music Director Daniel Bassin explains. “Reverend Joan Montagnes rolled out the idea of a Maundy Thursday service last year”, says Bassin, “and we began putting together a meditative program of music and readings which was attended by a small number of congregants and community members, and almost all of the UUCB Choir (we rehearse on Thursday evenings). This Thursday we’ve planned for something much bigger, and I hope also more public”.
“The hour-long service has as its motto, ‘Where there is love and rebirth there is also pain’ and will consist of a juxtaposition of music and readings, progressing through deep, reflective, and meditative works. UUCB Choir soloists, Jessie Downs (soprano) and Helen Lowry (alto), respectively, will offer up selections from Samuel Barber’s Hermit Songs and Gustav Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder. UUCB piano accompanist, Su Lee will join forces with UB graduate keyboardist, Nicholas Emmanuel in Steve Reich’s 1967 masterpiece, Piano Phase. Frederic Chopin’s E-minor Prelude, Op. 28, No. 4, will also be performed, alongside two works by György Kurtág for two pianos – an original Kyrie, and his arrangement of the opening Sinfonia for Johan Sebastian Bach’s early funeral cantata, Gottes Zeit ist die Allerbeste Zeit”.
“Having Reich’s piece as a long musical meditation as the culminating point of a reflective service such as this Maundy Thursday’s really exemplifies what is unique about the history of our music program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo”, says Bassin. Our community has an appetite for the excellent music-making, and in just about the widest range of music possible. I am so lucky to have such wonderfully-talented and creative colleagues to be able to highlight in special services like this, and, frankly I’m looking forward to the experience of enjoying their work from the pews, this Thursday!”