Westminster Schola Cantorum, conducted by James Jordan, will present three concerts in Virginia and North Carolina in March. The performances are Saturday, March 15, at 7 p.m. at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, Va.; Sunday, March 16, at 7 p.m. at St. James Episcopal Church in Richmond, Va.; and Monday, March 17, at 7:30 p.m. at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church in Durham, N.C.
Titled “Journeys,” the program will feature Paul Mealor’s powerful Stabat Mater. Mealor earned international attention when his motet, a setting of Ubi Caritas et Amor, was commissioned by Britain’s Prince William for his marriage to Catherine Middleton and sung by the Choirs of Westminster Abbey. He wrote about his setting of Stabat Mater, “My setting of this powerful and moving poem attempts to portray the journey from darkness, despair and suffering to light, rest and final, everlasting peace.” The program will also include John Tavener’s Song for Athene, which was sung at the funeral service for Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, and Morten Lauridsen’s setting of O Magnum Mysterium. The choir will also perform works by Ralph Vaughan Williams, Josef Rheinberger, Brandon Waddles and John Rutter.
Composed of students in their second year of study at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J., Westminster Schola Cantorum is one of three curricular choirs that form the core of the Westminster experience. The Choir prepares students for the Westminster Symphonic Choir, which performs and records with the world’s great orchestras. Unique to the experience of Schola Cantorum is the performance and study of a major choral work, which this season is Paul Mealor’s Stabat Mater. Previous seasons have included performances of Benjamin Britten’s St. Nicolas Cantata, Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Dona Nobis Pacem and Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem.
James Jordan is recognized and praised around the musical world as one of the nation’s pre-eminent conductors, writers and innovators in choral music. The author of more than 30 books and DVDs on all aspects of the choral art, he has been described as a “visionary” by The Choral Journal. Gramophone hailed him as a conductor of “forceful and intimate choral artistry.” The American Record Guide has praised his recordings as “without peer.” His career and publications have been devoted to innovative educational changes in the choral art, which have been embraced around the world. His book Evoking Sound was named as a “must read” on a list of six books by The Choral Journal. Dr. Jordan is professor and senior conductor at Westminster Choir College, where he conducts Westminster Schola Cantorum and the Westminster Williamson Voices. He has made two recordings of the music of James Whitbourn with the Westminster Williamson Voices on the Naxos label. Living Voices was described as “superb” by Gramophone. Annelies, the first major choral setting of The Diary of Anne Frank, was nominated for a 2014 GRAMMY Award as the Best Choral Recording.