Three works focusing the realities and mystery of death and new life
Anne Sears
Westminster Choir, Joe Miller, conductor

Westminster Choir, Joe Miller, conductor

The Westminster Choir, conducted by Joe Miller, will present a concert entitled “Requiem” on Friday, March 9, 2012 at 8 p.m. at the Princeton Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J.

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.

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 Westminster Choir is composed of students at Westminster Choir College, a division of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts.  It has been the chorus-in-residence for the Spoleto Festival USA since 1977, performing both in concert and as the opera chorus.  The ensemble’s current season includes participation in Princeton's Memory and the Work of Art project, a concert tour of the South, performances and broadcasts at its home in Princeton, a Carnegie Hall Community Sing in New York and its annual residency at the Spoleto Festival USA.

Joe Miller is the conductor of the Westminster Choir and the Westminster Symphonic Choir.  As director of choral activities at Westminster Choir College he also oversees an extensive choral program that includes eight ensembles. His season with the Westminster Symphonic Choir includes collaborations with the New York Philharmonic and Peter Schreier, the Berlin Philharmonic and Simon Rattle and The Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.  Dr. Miller is also founder and conductor of the Westminster Chamber Choir, and leads the annual Westminster Choral Festival, which welcomes singers and conductors to study and perform a major choral work with orchestra. 

Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for students/seniors.  All tickets can be reserved by calling the Westminster Box Office at (609) 921-2663 or going online to Princeton Presbyterian Church is located at 545 Meadow Road in Princeton, N.J.