The Messenger is hardly special in its failure to report on many events it earlier promoted. Let me try to create a different tradition here.
If you missed last night’s concert at St. Paul’s devoted to the music of the French organist and composer Maurice Duruflé, you missed a very fine concert indeed. The centerpiece of the program was Duruflé’s Requiem, Op. 9. Slippery Rock University’s Dr. Stephen Barr directed the performance of St. Paul’s Chancel Choir and the combined choirs from Slippery Rock University. Accompaniment was provided by a small orchestra that included some Slippery Rock students and by Principal Organist of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Dr. Richard Elliott.
The program began with an a capella performance by the Slippery Rock University Chamber Singers of Four Motets on Gregorian Themes, Op. 10. Episcopalians who listened closely should have found some familiar themes here. The group of 16 singers performed the brief motets beautifully, getting the concert off to a pleasing start. (The group reprised several of the motets at today’s 10:30 service.)
The pre-intermission part of the concert was rounded out by two pieces played by organist Richard Elliott. These were Prelude et fugue sur le nom d’Alain, Op. 7, and Adagio et choral varié sur le theme du ‘Veni Creator,’ Op. 4. The former is one of my favorite organ pieces; I had not heard the latter before. Both compositions were impressively played by Elliott. It’s too bad that the organ console was not positioned so that the audience could see his hands and feet, since they were obviously getting quite a workout. Elliott was very impressed with St. Paul’s’ organ, by the way.
I can hardly comment on the performance of the Requiem as an objective observer, as I was one of the singers. I cannot even compare our effort last night to rehearsals, as we had never done a complete run-through of the mass. I thought we acquitted ourselves well, however, and the audience seemed to agree with that evaluation. Steve Barr did a fine job of preparing the musicians and of conducting the performance itself.
I was pleased that rector Lou Hays introduced the program. In the past, clergy at St. Paul’s have not always supported musical performances in such a conspicuous way.
I was surprised to learn that one reason the Slippery Rock people were performing at St. Paul’s is that the university does not have a good performance venue, certainly not one with an organ, at any rate. Needless to say, the singers at St. Paul’s were delighted to work with the Slippery Rock students.
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