Free Admission Concert to Feature Duruflé's "Requiem"
Pasadena, CA, March 11, 2013 — Music by French organist and composer Maurice Duruflé — including his sublime "Requiem" — will be the centerpiece of Pasadena Presbyterian Church's 16th annual Good Friday Devotional Concert to be held March 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary, 585 E. Colorado Blvd, (corner of Madison Avenue) in the Playhouse District of downtown Pasadena.
The concert — the seventh event on the church's "Friends of Music at PPC" concert series — is free of admission charge (a freewill offering will be taken). Pasadena Star-News music critic Robert D. Thomas will deliver a preconcert lecture at 7 p.m. Free parking is available and the church is fully accessible to the mobility-impaired.
Timothy Howard, PPC's organist and music director, will conduct the church's Kirk Choir and two-dozen community singers, soprano Judith Siirila, baritone Michal Dawson Connor, organist Meaghan King and the Friends of Music Orchestra in Duruflé's "Requiem." Howard will also lead the Pasadena Singers, the church's chamber-sized choral ensemble, in the composer's "Four Motets on Gregorian Themes."
Also on the program, King will play Duruflé's "Meditation" for solo organ, while Howard will lead the orchestra in Paul Creston's "Gregorian Chant for String Orchestra."
Duruflé (1902-1986) was a meticulous composer who was extremely critical of his works, so much so that he published only a handful of works and often continued to edit and change pieces after publication. "Every notation in his scores," says Howard, "is an attempt to reflect what he heard in his mind and ear as he was writing."
Nowhere was this truer than in "Requiem," which was originally commissioned in 1947 and was written in memory of Duruflé's father. Eventually Duruflé wrote three different versions of the work: full orchestra, organ solo, and small orchestra with organ accompaniment. It is this last version, completed in 1961, that will be used for the Good Friday concert.
As with the other pieces in this concert, Duruflé's "Requiem" was based on Gregorian chant. The structure of the work is similar to Fauré's "Requiem," in that Duruflé included texts ("Pie Jesu," "Libera me" and "In Paradisum") from the Roman Catholic burial service in addition to sections from the funeral mass.
Duruflé completed his a cappella "Four Motets on Gregorian Themes" in 1960, a year before the final version of "Requiem." The first of the quartet — "Ubi Caritas" — is one of the most famous choral works of the second half of the 20th century; the other three sections are "Tota Tota pulchra es," T"u es" and "Tantum ergo."
Also on the program is Paul Creston's serene and melodious "Gregorian Chant for String Orchestra." "Creston, along with such composers as Samuel Barber, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris and Aaron Copland, was a leading name in the 'American Symphonist' style of music that emerged in the the 1920s," says Howazrd " 'Gregorian Chant for String Orchestra" is a re-working of the third movement of his String Quartet, Op. 8, dating from 1936. Although it is never quoted exactly, the shape and mood of the plainsong 'Pange lingua' is heard and felt throughout the single movement."
The final two events on PPC's Friends of Music series are an organ recital by Timothy Hioward on May 11 and the church's annual "Jazz for the City" on June 1, which this year will feature Afro-Cuban Jazz Project, featuring trumpeter Josiel Perez-Hernandez.
The church also sponsors its weekly "Music at Noon" series of concerts featuring an eclectic mix of local, national and international artists from 12:10-12:40 p.m. each Wednesday.
[ABOUT PASADENA PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH: Founded in 1875, Pasadena Presbyterian Church is the oldest congregation in the city. It continues to be a leader in the Presbyterian Church (USA) denomination as three languages (English, Korean and Spanish) combine to worship, study and serve as one integrated congregation. Music has been an integral part of the church's outreach to the community since Dr. Howard Swan became the church's music director in 1940. The church currently has hundreds of people participating in nine different choral and instrumental ensembles throughout the year.]