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Brahms’ Requiem performed in its entirety by ASU choral and orchestral ensembles


April 09, 2003

WHAT: Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), considered by many to be Brahms’s first major success, will be performed in its entirety (all seven movements) by the University Symphony Orchestra and combined ASU Choirs. All the groups are in the ASU Herberger College of Fine Arts School of Music. Guest soloists are bass-baritone Stephen Bryant and soprano Jayne West.

WHEN: May 4 (Sunday), 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: Gammage Auditorium, 1200 S. Forest Ave., main ASU Campus, Tempe

HOW MUCH: Free, no tickets required. Doors open at 2 p.m.

INFORMATION: 480-965-8863

All seven movements of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), will be performed by the School of Music’s University Symphony Orchestra and the combined ASU Choirs: Concert Choir, University Choir, Women’s Chorus and Choral Union.

The concert is May 4 at 2:30 p.m. in Gammage Auditorium, which is on the ASU campus in Tempe at 1200 S. Forest Avenue. Admission is free, no tickets are required. Doors open at 2 p.m.

“Brahms’s composition, a memorial not of any one death but of all deaths, is indeed a work of consolation and promise that transcends dogma to address all humanity,” writes ASU director of choral activities David Schildkret in the program notes for the concert.

“Brahms worked on the Requiem intermittently over a period of some fourteen years. The earliest material – the opening of the second movement – dates from 1854, when it was sketched as part of an aborted symphony in D minor. The last music was the fifth movement, composed in June of 1868, after the first performance. Several pivotal events in the composer’s life seem to have provided the impetus for the work: in 1854, Robert Schumann, Brahms’s close friend, mentor, and enthusiastic supporter, attempted suicide; Schumann died in an asylum in 1856; Brahms’s beloved stepmother died in 1865. At each of these times, Brahms did some significant work on the Requiem. The title itself may have been inspired by Schumann, who contemplated writing a work by the same name. Despite its superficial connection to these events, however, the German Requiemremains a meditation on death and redemption, rather than a memorial either to Schumann or to Brahms’s stepmother.

“Musically, the work reflects its composer’s eclectic nature. There are influences of Beethoven, Cherubini, J.S. Bach, and even the motets of such Renaissance composers as Palestrina…But the vessel into which Brahms poured his musical creativity is the text. As a large sacred work, theRequiem is unique; for its text is neither liturgical (as in a Mass) nor a poetic meditation on a Biblical narrative (as in an oratorio), but the composer’s own compilation of texts from the German Bible and the Apocrypha,” notes Schildkret.

“Brahms might well have called his composition ‘A Human Requiem,’ for it deals with human concerns and emotions: sorrow, trouble, anxiety, the meaning of life and death, and the hope and promise of a better life to come. Yet, in spite of its transcendent universality, it remains the personal expression of a complex and powerfully creative spirit. The mighty forces of the Requiem speak to all humanity with a single voice – that of Brahms himself – and therein lies its power to touch us so deeply,” writes Schildkret.

Guest soloists for the concert are Stephen Bryant and Jayne West. Bass-baritone Stephen Bryant’s distinguished career in concert and opera has taken him around the world, with performances in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He is especially known for his artistry as soloist in orchestral works. In addition to his extensive concert engagements, Bryant also maintains an active opera career and has sung with numerous companies, including Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera and Arizona Opera. Soprano Jayne West has performed with many of the country’s leading orchestras and chamber groups. In addition to having sun most of the Bach Cantatas, West has sung several times on Emmanuel Music’s seven-year Schubert series and in its performance of Schubert’s Mass in E-Flat, Bach’s B Minor Mass and Handel’s Hercules, Saul and Brockes Passion

Media Contact:
Mary Brennan
480-965-3587
mary.brennan@asu.edu