Featuring works by Howells, O'Regan and Tavener on August 20.
Anne Sears

WWFM The Classical Network will broadcast a recording of the Westminster Choir’s March 2012 concert entitled “Requiem” on Monday, August 20 at 8 p.m.  Part of the network’s “Celebrating Our Musical Future” series, it will be heard throughout the station’s broadcast region between Philadelphia and New York and world-wide on the Web.

The program will include three works that focus on the realities and mystery of death and new life: Herbert Howells' Requiem, Tarik O’Regan’s The Ecstasies Above, and John Tavener’s Svyati.  The concert, which was conducted by Joe Miller, was recorded on March 9 at Princeton Presbyterian Church.

Herbert Howells wrote his profoundly moving Requiem in 1936 in response to the tragic death of his only son. Not performed until 1980, it is one of the great choral gems of the 20th century.  Written for unaccompanied double choir, the Requiem is for the living – filled with comfort, hope and thanksgiving. The work radiates glorious lush chords and harmonies that transcend the spirit. The text alternates between Latin and English including a movement based on the 23rd Psalm.

The Ecstasies Above
was written for choir, eight soloists and string quartet.  A setting of Edgar Allan Poe's Israfel, it creates a virtuous image of the supernatural, then compares that heavenly vision to the harsh reality of human existence.  Svyati, scored for unaccompanied choir and solo cello, is a dramatic setting of the text sung in the Russian Orthodox funeral service as the coffin is closed and borne out of the church, followed by the mourners with lighted candles.

The ensemble performed the same repertoire as part of its residency at the Spoleto Festival USA in May.  Charleston Post and Courier reviewer Bill Gudger wrote about that performance “this music was comfort for the living, not grief for the dead.”

To learn more about WWFM The Classical Network go to www.wwfm.org.