Stabat Mater: From Carnegie Hall to Bridgeway Community Church

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By Lesley Oakman and Malcolm Sargent

The Swift Current Oratorio Choir presents their annual spring concert on Sunday April 13 at 7 p.m. at Bridgeway Community Church.

Karl Jenkins’ Stabat Mater is the featured music for the concert. Members of the Oratorio Choir travelled to New York to perform this piece for Karl Jenkins at Carnegie Hall in January 2014.

Karl Jenkins has been acclaimed as one of our greatest living composers, and his Stabat Mater is truly a masterpiece. Stabat Mater is a 20 verse poem in Latin, written in the 13th century. It portrays the sufferings of Mary as she stands beneath the Cross where her Son is being crucified. The text has been set to music by many classical composers, most notably: Palestrina, Pergolesi, Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Haydn, Rossini, Poulenc, and Dvořák.

Jenkins' version consists of 12 movements, supplementing the 20 original Latin verses with six new texts: Incantation (Arabic); Lament (English, written by Jenkins' wife, Carol Barratt); Now My Life is Only Weeping (from a poem by the Persian poet Rumi, Aramaic & English), And the Mother Did Weep (English, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic), Are You Lost Out in Darkness (Aramaic), and Ave Verum (Latin, originally composed by Jenkins for the Welsh tenor, Bryn Terfel).

Also on the concert program is Antonio Vivaldi’s beautiful Gloria in D major. The Gloria text is from the Latin translation of an early Greek hymn, sung as part of Mass or morning prayers as early as the 4th century. The text is beautiful and lyrical, and has been popular among classical composers, with many distinct musical arrangements. This version is the most familiar and popular piece of sacred music by Vivaldi.

The Swift Current Oratorio Choir is a community choir with members from all over Southwest Saskatchewan. Currently in its 41st season, the choir was one of a handful of choirs worldwide to be chosen to perform as part of a mass choir at Carnegie Hall in January, in a concert honouring Karl Jenkins' 70th birthday.

The choir is led by Marcia McLean and accompanied by Sheila Braun. For the concert, Greg McLean will take over the conductor's baton, and the choir will be joined by the Regina Chamber Players as well as guest soloists Renee Brad and Jordanne Erichsen.

Advance tickets for the concert are on sale at Pharmasave in Swift Current for $20. Admission at the door will cost $25.

Organizations: Oratorio Choir, Regina Chamber Players

Geographic location: Bridgeway Community, Southwest Saskatchewan, Swift Current Carnegie Hall

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