Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem

in the context of a Human Liturgy

and accompanied by the composer’s arrangement for piano, four-hands

A Benefit Concert

Performance Audio - Performance Video - Performance Photos


Chorosynthesis Singers

Elaine Weltz & Melissa Thorne, four-hands piano

Stephen Lancaster, baritone

Laura Strickling, soprano

November 5, 2011, 7:30 pm

First Free Methodist Church

Wendy K. Moy, conductor

November 6, 2011, 3:00 pm

St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral

Jeremiah D. Selvey, conductor

Chorosynthesis Singers, a new choir formed by the nonprofit Chorosynthesis,  will present the Brahms Requiem in the context of a Human Liturgy at First Free Methodist Church on November 5, 2011 at 7:30 pm and at St. Mark’s Cathedral on November 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm.  This performance involves professional and semi-professional musicians from across the nation and includes collaborative contributions from religious, academic, and community settings. Suggested donation is $15.00/adult and $5.00 child/student/senior. The proceeds will benefit charities appropriate to each performing venue and to the people these performances honor.

Suggested donation: $15/person or $5/children, students, and seniors.


Perspectives on this performance

Though not intended for liturgical worship, Ein deutsches Requiem has been the center-piece for many worship events since its Good Friday premiere in Bremen 1868, where other sacred pieces—notably selections from Handel's Messiah—were interpolated between the movements. The New Grove Dictionary of Music explains Brahms's religious sensibilities most succinctly; “Brahms was never religious in the strict sense of the word, but in the humane sense he was a Christian.” Despite constructing the libretto with selections directly from the Lutheran Bible, including the New Testament, he avoided mentioning Christ. To generate more interest in his compositions, Brahms, a composer with pianist's sensibilities, personally undertook the task of producing piano four-hands or piano duet versions of many of his symphonic works so that his orchestral music could be experienced anywhere, including people's homes. The four-hands piano version of the Requiem incorporates all the vocal parts and serves as a self-contained version. The London premiere of 1871 took place in the home of Sir Henry Thompson, was sung in English, and utilized around 30 singers and the four-hands piano version (probably with omitted vocal parts). Perhaps this chamber version will reveal a different layer of the genius of Johannes Brahms. In many ways, a chamber presentation of the Requiem provides opportunities for textual clarity and musical nuance often obscured by large-scale performances. In addition, the chamber setting allows for brisk tempi and expressions distinct from the slumbering maestoso and ponderous allegros of most performances of Brahms's music. If an overly-earnest presentation gave rise to George Bernard Shaw's hatred of Brahms and caused him to say of the Requiem, “it could only have come from the establishment of a first-class undertaker,” it is the hope of this performance to provide a distinct and fresh appreciation of this astounding work, where earthly comfort and delight melds with a vision of heaven that is both tranquil and sublime.

by Philip Tschopp and Jeremiah Selvey