In A Graveyard: Choral Concert Explores Themes Of Death And Remembrance

Friday, October 13, 2017

UTC’s Department of Performing Arts Division of Music invites the public to In a Graveyard: A Choral Concert on Death and Remembrance. The performance will take place on Saturday, Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m., at Christ Church Episcopal. 

The concert, conducted by Alison Allerton, assistant professor of choral music education, explores the medieval allegory Danse Macabre, the idea that death is all-conquering and the ultimate equalizer with Hugo Distler’s Totentanz.

The 14 short, unaccompanied choral movements are settings of sayings by Angelus Silesius, a 17th century mystic priest who was influenced by the numerous art pieces born in the middle ages depicting various characters dancing with death.

In Distler’s musical setting, each movement represents various characters--the emperor, pope, farmer, merchant, old man and tiny child as death leads them in a mortal waltz. 

“The main impetus behind the concert was to perform Distler’s Totentanz, as it was the piece I wrote my dissertation on. Hugo Distler wrote this work — a motet for All Saints Day — in 1934. Eight years later, in 1942, he committed suicide on All Saints Day,” Ms Allerton said. 

“This fall is the seventy-fifth anniversary of his death, and I really wanted to perform this piece — both as a culmination of my research on this work, and as a sort of memorial to him, a way to honor this amazing composer on the anniversary of his death. For many reasons (too numerous to elaborate on here), this work appears to be very near and dear to the composer,” she added. 

Accompanying Dister’s Totentanz, is a collection of music thematically connected to Halloween and All Saints Day. 

The concert will also include visuals and the audience will be encouraged to participate by honoring their loved ones who have passed. 

The Ensemble 

The concert’s choral ensemble is made up of 16 singers from the Chattanooga area and some from out of state. Local singers include choral directors from McCallie School, Dade County High School, Signal Mountain High School, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy and Tennessee Wesleyan University. 

The group also includes a freelance professional singer from the Houston area, Michelle Capdau, and a freelance professional singer from the New York City area, Erick Sanchez; both will be singing stunning solos in the final work — a spiritual arrangement of “Soon Ah Will Be Done” and “I Wanna Die Easy” arranged by world renowned composer and conductor of Conspirare, Craig Hella Johnson.

Additional works to be performed include: 
Rufus Wainwright’s “In a Graveyard” 
Einojuhani Rautavaara’s “Suite de Lorca” 
Matthew Harris’ “Come Away, Come Away Death” 
Ildebrando Pizzetti’s “Dies Irae” from Requiem 
Daniel Elder’s “Elegy” 
Heinrich Schutz’s “Selig sind die Toten “ 
“Soon Ah Will Be Done/I Wanna Die Easy” arranged by Craig Hella Johnson

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