Consolation in hard times: The Brahms Requiem

Arts & Entertainment

Consolation in hard times: The Brahms Requiem

Orchestra and singers unite
Many hands make Brahms possible

The upcoming performances of Brahms A German Requiem have required massive planning. Not only will the San Juan Symphony augment its ranks, but Music Director Thomas Heuser has invited regional choral groups to participate. More than 120 singers from Durango, Farmington, Telluride and Fort Lewis College will join the orchestra for final rehearsals and performances this weekend.
“Brahms’ monumental, brilliant Requiem is one of those mountaintop works that every choral singer cherishes,” Linda Mack Berven, director of the Durango Choral Society said in an interview this week. “It is full of beautiful, rich harmonies and exciting passages that make it utterly exhilarating to perform.”
Charissa Chiaravalloti, director of choral studies at FLC, noted that the work is new to every one of her singers. “And I feel an enormous responsibility to help them gain a deep understanding of this magnificent work. The technical aspects are demanding, from intense chromatic harmonies and soaring melodies to complex rhythm to extreme vocal ranges.”
Virginia Nickels, co-founder and director of Caliente Community Chorus, who like Chiaravalloti and Mack Berven, will be singing in the mass chorus, commented on her personal experience: “Even though I’m a decent musician, I still have to think about where I get my first note, about my sound production, about that one measure I still can’t get,” she said.
For every musician on stage, the Brahms Requiem has been an opportunity not to be missed.
“Brahms created a musical decathlon,” Chiaravalloti said. “For the singers, it requires complete mental focus as well as physical stamina. Alongside all that, we must convincingly deliver the meaning of the text, which speaks of comfort for those who mourn, a common human experience.”
Judith Reynolds

If you go

What: The San Juan Symphony, Thomas Heuser, music director-conductor, A German Requiem, Op.45, by Johannes Brahms, with soprano Gemma Kavanagh and bass-baritone Seth Keeton, the Durango Choral Society, Caliente Community Chorus, Fort Lewis College Chamber Choir.


When/Where: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Community Concert Hall, Durango, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Henderson Performance Hall, Farmington.


Tickets: Range from $16 for students to $55 for adults.


More information: Call 247-7567, visit www.durangodurangoconcerts.com or call (505) 566-3430 in Farmington.

Consolation in hard times: The Brahms Requiem

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