The Chancel Choir and Sanctuary Choir have been diligently preparing for a concert that I am very excited about. On December 7th at 4:30 PM in the Sanctuary we will be singing an array of Christmas choral music. We will be including pieces that are very popular; (O Magnum Mysterium by Morten Lauridsen and Vivaldi’s Gloria) and pieces that could be considered obscure. (Conrad Susa’s Three Mystical Carols and I Sing the Birth by C. H. H. Parry who wrote I was Glad) When planning a concert like this variety is the spice of life and this concert is extremely varied.
Next week I would like to write about Susa’s Three Mystical Carols since they are fascinating pieces. This week however, I would like to discuss the Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi. This piece is one of the most famous pieces ever written for chamber orchestra and chorus. The piece is performed with three soloists; an orchestra of strings, oboe, trumpet, and organ; and choir. The piece uses the Gloria text from the Catholic Mass and is broken up into eleven movements of varying lengths and forms. It is a joyful piece that has been enjoyed by audiences ever since it was brought back into the repertoire by Alfredo Casella in 1939 after over 200 years of relative obscurity.
While the choir is a central figure in the entire piece, the writing for soloists contains particular moments of beauty. The soprano duet “Laudamus Te” is light and dance like. The alto solo “Domine Deus, Agnus Dei” is very dramatic and expressive. The soprano solo “Qui Sedes” is stately and graceful. In the same way Vivaldi was able to paint pictures of the seasons with his violin concertos, he painted pictures of the Gloria text with this wonderful music. At the concert, the text and a translation will be provided so you can follow along and form your own opinions about how the words and music relate.
The piece will be sung with orchestra and as usual we have top notch players coming from our rich pool of professional classical musicians in Nashville. Many of these players will be coming straight from playing the Nutcracker. While you have to pay to hear them play the Nutcracker, our concerts at West End are free and open to all. So I hope you will take advantage of this wonderful opportunity to hear one of the great pieces of Sacred Music.