Greg Wheatley, Musical Director of the Glen Ellyn-Wheaton Chorale, shares his thoughts about past and future concerts, musical works we've performed, and the many joys of choral music.
Life, Love, and Eternity—those three words encompass the whole range of human existence. Certainly every one of us shares the common possession of life itself as we wake to each new day. Love—whether of a parent to a child, a friend to a friend, or the wonderful experience of falling in love—is a universal need. And then there is the question of eternity—what comes after all of these experiences?
Our Spring 2011 concert contained music that spoke to each of these facets of human existence. Some of it was lighthearted. Some was joyous and celebrative of life itself! And some, like the Requiem, asked the deepest questions a human can ask.
French composer Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924) composed his Requiem during the years 1887-1888. Fauré's father had died in 1885 and his mother two years before that, but it is a bit unclear how much the death of his parents had to do with this composition. The work was first performed at the funeral service of a parishioner of the Church of the Madeleine in Paris, where Fauré was engaged as choirmaster.
Fauré's Requiem in its original form had only five movements, leaving out the Offertory and Libera me. These were added in a revision which was first performed in 1893. Perhaps more interesting is the fact that most of us today know the Requiem in its fully orchestrated form, with a rather lush Romantic orchestra. The fact is that this version did not materialize until 1900, and it is even a bit unclear whether Fauré prepared it, or delegated the duty to someone else. In any case, the version you heard in our concert was very close to Fauré's original, more intimate edition for voices and a chamber orchestra.
If you have heard other composers' Requiems, you will know that many of them draw on very dramatic musical devices to portray the terrors of death and final judgment (think of Verdi's work, or that of Berlioz). Fauré's Requiem takes a decidedly different tack, choosing for the most part to dwell on the more comforting portions of the Requiem text.
I hope you enjoyed our concert—and that you, along with us, were able to experience the full range of human emotion in Songs of Life, Love, and Eternity.