Out of Darkness Into Light
Written by Artistic Director
Dr. Mainella Matthew
Out of Darkness
‘Tis the Easter season come late March, and although this program is not explicitly an Easter-themed concert, it celebrates an Easter-time transformation we’re all familiar with: the journey from dark into light, both in ourselves and in the world. This type of change is especially evident this time of year, as the wintry world subsides and the green grass grows anew. During this concert we will take a journey from the deepest, darkest places of the human psyche, to the inner struggles we all deal with, to the triumphant victory of overcoming those fears and struggles.
Our Concert Begins with Beethoven
This year we are also celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and we have two works of his on the program. The concert opens with one of Beethoven’s most moving yet unsettling works, his Coriolon Overture. It is full of raw, visceral energy that erupts in fits and starts. At its core, this overture is full of conflict, and plays two ideas against each other, representing the struggle between our violent, warlike tendencies, and our desire for peace and well-being. It ends in tragedy, reflecting our human nature once again; after all, we must fall before we can pick ourselves up.
Next we will move on to one of the most sublime works ever written, two excerpts from Mozart’s Requiem, the “Confutatis” and “Lacrimosa.” The former speaks of contrition through the act of kneeling before God; it seeks Heavenly aid while the world is ‘doomed to flames of woe.’ The latter, “Lacrimosa,” literally means ‘tears’, as in the tears of mourning specifically brought forth by Judgment Day. It asks the Lord for forgiveness, and for mercy in the afterlife.
Rossini’s Stabat Mater
We will progress from there to the “Amen” of Rossini’s Stabat Mater, a massive work for chorus and orchestra, both as a way to conclude the ‘Darkness’ portion of our concert, and to let our chorus show off a bit! The Stabat Mater, which means “Sorrowful Mother,” portrays the crucifixion through the perspective of mother Mary. The “Amen” features a type of musical construction called a double fugue, a complex showpiece that is just as rewarding to sing and play as it is difficult to perform. It ends intensely, expressing deep sadness and anger at the crucifixion events.
From here we can begin to come ‘Into Light” and move to the resurrection and redemption half of our concert. Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture is ethereal and magical, featuring melodies from the Russian Orthodox tradition, and highlights both the solemnity of the Easter event as well as the unbridled celebration come Easter Sunday morning. In Russia, Easter is known as the Bright Holiday, and the music is indeed joyful and brilliant as it concludes.
The Joy of Brahms
Next we go back to Germany with Brahms and the second movement from his German Requiem, which meditates on the second coming of Christ. It begins ponderously, reminding us of the darkness from which we have come, but then turns to pure joy. The sense of relief and bliss at the end is palpable.
We’ll then move to the finale of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8, which pays tribute to the music of both Beethoven and Brahms. It is optimistic and triumphant, but not without its moments of doubt and uncertainty as it makes its way to its exultant final measures.