Narrator Ron Della Chiesa takes you behind the scenes as Boston University...
BOSTON UNIVERSITY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND SYMPHONIC CHORUS AT SYMPHONY HALL
MONDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2013
CONDUCTED BY ANN HOWARD JONES
LYNN EUSTIS, SOPRANO
JAMES DEMLER, BARITONE
Dona Nobis Pacem
A cantata written by Ralph Vaughan Williams in 1936, and often considered one of the composer’s greatest choral works, Dona Nobis Pacem was intended to a plea for peace against the rising drums of war being heard among Europe in the mid-1930s.
Inspired by Walt Whitman’s Beat! Beat! Drums! and drawing from an admonitory speech made in the British House of Commons, as well as selected Bible verses, there is a constant urging by solo soprano and chorus, hovering over the work of “Dona Nobis Pacem,” literally translated to “Grant Us Peace,” from the Latin Mass.
Commissioned by the Koussevitzky Foundation in the Library of Congress, and one of Francis Poulenc’s most celebrated works, the Gloria draws from the “Gloria” of the Latin Mass with slight modifications. Joyfulness is the keynote for this text that begins with the angels’ annunciation of the birth of a savior, continues with praise of God, and concludes with prayers for salvation.
“In referring to the Gloria, Poulenc spoke of its “symphonic” character,” said Ann Howard Jones, conductor. “The words are the Latin text used in the Mass from the earliest centuries of the Roman Catholic Church. Here, the words are treated more like poetry than like something sacred unto themselves, suggesting rhythmic ideas and melodic motives.”
Psalm 90, Charles Ives’ most extensive setting, and according to Ive’s wife, Harmony, “the only one of this works that satisfied him,” was first completed in 1894, and was later reconstructed in 1924. The form of Psalm 90 reflects the division of the psalm into seventeen verses; the divisions of the score, connected without pauses are numbered in accord with the Biblical verses.
“Psalm 90 is hardly in need of any alteration; its unusually direct structure, sound, and feeling resonate with uncommon power,” said David Hoose, who orchestrated the performance of the work. “The orchestration, devised to allow Ives’ masterpiece to speak at least as clearly, if not as magically, as it does in its original version.”
For video of other performances please visit the School of Music’s Virtual Concert Hall.