Sydney choral ensemble Bel a cappella under the direction of their Musical Director Anthony Pasquill is proud to present its first concert of its 2018 subscription series, To the Hands. Its highlights include Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem and music by American composer Caroline Shaw.
This concert marks the Australian premiere of Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw’s composition To the Hands, which begins and ends with strains of Buxtehude’s Ad manus from his composition Membra Jesu Nostra, with small harmonic and melodic references throughout.
The structure of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita in D minor for solo violin puzzled commentators for centuries: why, besides the standard sequence of baroque dance-forms, did Bach then add the chaconne? The German scholar Professor Helga Thoene suggests that the work commemorates the composer’s first wife, Maria Barbara with funereal Lutheran melodies are woven into the music. For this special version, the choir is joined by violinist Gemma Lee (2017 Sydney Symphony Orchestra Violin Fellow).
Fauré’s Requiem, in the same funereal key of D minor, follows the chaconne seamlessly. This scaled-down version of Fauré’s masterwork for choir, string quintet and organ, underlines the work’s quiet individuality and restraint.
As Fauré himself put it, ‘someone has called it a lullaby of death. But that’s how I see death: as an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience’.
Bel a cappella have two other concerts in its 2018 series, Salve Regina in August and Threshold of Night in November. They are also embarking on their second European Tour in May this year to Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
Tickets are available online for $40/$30/$20 at belacappella.org.au, or at the door $45/$35/$20.