Join conductors, Holly Druckman & Lorraine Fitzmaurice, in a community performance of Brahms' "Ein Deutsches Requiem" also referred to as his “Requiem for the living". Titled as such because this work was written to pull society together with common purpose.
We are raising $13,200 for costs associated with renting and setting up spaces for performance, and honorariums for local musicians who will join us in making this momentous concert a reality. More than 100 community members have signed up to join us, and you may know some of them!
This event is grass-roots organized and needs our collective contributions to make it happen. We appreciate everyone's dedication in lending your musicianship, bringing your friends and families to experience this concert, and very importantly, choosing to make meaningful financial contributions to this concert!
Contributions may be made digitally through the "Donate to this concert" button, or via check. If donating via check, please write "Requiem for the living" on the memo line, addressed to:
P.O. Box 1486
Arlington, MA, 02474
This concert lead by the efforts of Lorraine Fitzmaurice and supported by Boston based chamber choir, Carduus. All proceeds will go towards the realization of this concert., including compensation for musicians.
where & when?
August 29th, 2021, 5pm
Venue: Foss Park in Somerville
About the Repertoire
This concert is about remembering and honoring those lives lost to COVID-19, and finding comfort in being together and grieving. For Lorraine and me, it was important to create a public space where we could all comfort one another and start to process the trauma that we’ve all gone through together - especially within our Boston community that we love so much. And as musicians, we’ve been affected by COVID-19 in a different way, in that we lost not only our livelihood for a year-and-a-half, but our means of expression and connecting with the people around us. The musicians you see on stage have sorely missed singing and playing live; the process of preparing for this performance has been challenging, but filled a huge emotional need for all of us involved.
“Hope is the thing with feathers” was written for my choir Carduus by my dear friend Ben Yee-Paulson. Ben chose this poem because he knows how much I love Emily Dickinson: but at this moment, her words and his music feel more meaningful and resonant than ever. The poem says that “hope” is like a singing bird; something completely natural that birds know how to do without thinking about it. Dickinson sees “hope” as something similar - that, no matter what the circumstances, humans always have hope without knowing why or how. Yee-Paulson’s music only brings this quality out: his melodies have a quiet, gentle strength that feels defiant at times, but never aggressive. We’ve all faced so much sadness and loss these past 15 months, but hope endures.
“The Anonymous Soldier”, by Mattia Maurée, was originally written in 2019 and my colleague Lorraine Fitzmaurice gave the premiere. In the piece that you’ll hear today, Maurée has made some substantial changes from that version. Maurée has this to say about the piece’s origins and composition:
The title—and the poet's wish to remain anonymous—addresses the silent anonymity experienced by the survivors of systemic, societal and state violence. The causes of social and political violence are cyclically related to why we rush to forget what we are capable of, what we have done, and what we continue to do. Silence begets more violence, and it makes healing nearly impossible. Survivors become responsible for their own recovery, often without communal resources or support required to make sense of their devastation. The Anonymous Soldier lives at the juncture of extreme violence and social amnesia. This is also relevant to broader systems that harm anyone considered outside the dominant structure. Full remembrance, societal accountability and social responsibility keep a society from continuing to commit systematic violence upon itself and others. Words are insufficient, metaphors are inadequate, but they are one way to make the political personal and physical again, instead of cold and abstract stone.
While the opening chords are aesthetically pleasing, their inverted bassline feels increasingly less stable. The “structure of violence” is both a steady bass pedal and an unstable time signature, which feels unmoored as lines float above it in their own time. As ideas trail off and return, they do not so much fight for dominance as for a chance to be heard completely. Energy builds through the climax, where the bass line has moved even farther from home. You can acclimate to almost anything. The elements of disconnect between the melody and text is less about closure and catharsis and more a dedication to the perils of recovery and the hardest work you can do.
The centerpiece of our program is Johannes Brahms’ choir and orchestra piece A German Requiem. For some more context about the title: in Brahms’ time, a “Requiem” was an established musical form with specific texts in Latin, supposed to be used during Catholic church services in memory of someone who has died. Instead of using those specific texts - which composers had used for hundreds of years before him - Brahms chose passages from the Christian bible that spoke to him personally. The title “German” Requiem here is in contrast to “Latin” Requiem - so a more correct translation might be a “human” requiem, or a “secular” requiem. And the texts Brahms chooses place the experience of the mourners front and center.
The piece begins with a peaceful meditation on the text “Blessed are those who mourn”, with intermittent lively outbursts as the text promises that “those who sow tears will reap joy”. Over the next hour-and-a-half, the music and text run the gamut of emotions. The devastating slow march of the second movement to the text of “All life will pass away”, to the joyful marches and complex choral movements of the second, third, and sixth. Movement three features a baritone soloist (Tyler Bouque) delivering an impassioned plea to God, while movement six evokes awe and terror in the face of the apocalypse (also featuring Tyler Bouque). Movement four is calm and peaceful, and provides some emotional relief from the heavier movements. Movement five features soprano Sara DeLong; to me, this movement is about a loved one who has died, and is speaking words of comfort from the beyond. The entire piece ends very much like how it began, calm but earnest and steadfast. Even the text of the last movement recalls the text of the beginning; where the first movement has “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”, the last movement has “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.”
The power of music can do many things, both listening to it and performing it. It can inflame our emotions, breed feelings of bondedness, encourage people to anger or to fall in love. With this performance, we hope to use this music to connect emotionally with one another, and dive deep to access those emotions we feel after the death and isolation that COVID-19 wrought. We hope that the power of this music, and the trajectory of this program, brings you healing and comfort. We are very glad to share this special space with all of you today.