Choral society performs Brahms’ ‘Requiem’
Ryan Summerlin April 7, 2013
The Summit Choral Society will present its spring concert on Monday and Tuesday, featuring the music of Brahms’ Requiem. The concert will be a kind of dress rehearsal for the Choral Society’s upcoming trip to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall.
“It’s part of the New York package, so I didn’t actually pick this piece,” director Jill Schroeder-Dorn said of the Requiem. “It’s very difficult and sophisticated, but you pay for a package to go sing a certain piece with MidAmerica Productions, and the piece they are doing the time we are going to be there is Brahms’ Requiem.
“So I decided to teach it for this concert. It’s such a beautiful piece, a monument of choral music. It’s one of my favorites; it’s a lot of people’s favorite – just one of those pieces that people love if they know it.”
Each year, MidAmerica Productions reviews audition recordings of choirs from all over the country and chooses a few to perform at revered venues in New York City. Schroeder-Dorn said the organization typically unites choirs with a full orchestra and a famous conductor or composer, who conducts one of his or her own works or another major artistic work, such as Brahms’ Requiem. It’s an opportunity for amateur singers to perform on the famous stage of Carnegie Hall.
“We’ll be sharing the New York concert with 12 other choirs from around the country,” she said.
At the spring concerts in Breckenridge and Dillon, Brahms’ Requiem will be accompanied by piano.
“Brahms originally wrote it for orchestra and choir, but he also made a piano arrangement to be more suited for smaller groups, smaller venues, so it’s a more intimate piece,” Schroeder-Dorn said.
The Requiem will have more of a chamber feel when it’s performed in Summit County, rather than the large orchestral arrangement the Choral Society will be performing in New York.
“It was written by the composer,” Schroeder-Dorn said. “Oftentimes, there will be a piano reduction of something but it’s really scored down a lot. The piano part is four-hand, so we’ll have two piano players on one piano to cover the different ranges of the whole orchestra. It captures the music very well; it’s not a reduction, it’s just a rearrangement. The notes and the harmony don’t change.”
Schroeder-Dorn has been directing the Summit Choral Society for a year and a half, and she said she’s impressed by how invested the singers are in their work.
“I really enjoy the community aspect,” she said. “People are there and they’re only there because they love to sing. It’s not part of a requirement. They are just really invested in the group, and I have really appreciated their efforts.”
The Summit Choral Society is a mixed chorus, with soprano, alto, tenor and bass parts. Schroeder-Dorn said many of the singers do their own sectionals each week to rehearse their parts beyond the once a week sessions with the full choir.
“They have really taken the initiative to make this happen,” she said. “They are adults and they are doing this voluntarily, which changes the dynamic a little bit. I really appreciate their investment in it all.”
Brahms’ Requiem is not a simple piece, Schroeder-Dorn said, and the choir has put in a lot of extra effort to learn it.
“There are a lot of good singers and leaders, and that helps,” she said. “And everyone who is there, even though they may be amateur, they have ability and skill, and that makes it possible, too.”
At the local concerts, Schroeder-Dorn will introduce the Requiem and explain its subtext and history and why it’s a significant part of the musical lexicon. The Summit Choral Society will perform Monday at Christ Lutheran Baptist Church in Breckenridge and Tuesday at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon. The shows are free.