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The Dartmouth
February 21, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Glee Club will sing diverse choral set

Complementing the iconic music of French composer Gabriel Fauré with spirituals and Spanish works, the Dartmouth College Glee Club will perform a diverse concert in Rollins Chapel on Sunday.

The program centers around Fauré’s “Requiem Mass in D minor,” a 35-minute piece written in Latin that is noted for its relaxing sound that contrasts the swift and forceful tone of typical funeral masses at the time, Glee Club director Louis Burkot said.

“The piece’s serene tone makes the composer seem accepting of death’s inevitability,” he said. “It encourages a sense of self-serenity.”

Fauré was born in 1845 and composed his works during the Romantic era of Western classical music, so he took a different approach when writing a piece about a normally solemn topic such as death.

Although Fauré originally composed the piece with only five movements, he continued to play with the work from 1890-1900, adding and omitting movements. The final form, which he completed in 1900, features seven movements. It opens with “Introit et Kyrie,” a prayer to God, before moving to “Offertoire.” The lyrics of “Sanctus,” “Pie Jesu” — an aria that features a soprano solo by glee club member Min Jee Kim ’17 – and “Agnus Dei” are characterized by graceful praise and worship of God.

“The solo sings the prayer to the ‘Blessed Jesus’ for a ‘granting rest,’” Kim said. “The peaceful melody and its orchestration are combined beautifully.”

“Libera Me” and “In Paradisum” close the mass with calls of aid and eternal blessings in heaven.

With its innovative sound, Burkot said, Fauré’s “Requiem” has garnered a cult following.

In addition to “Requiem,” the around 40-member group, along with a chamber orchestra, will perform a selection of pieces that integrate four centuries of choral music and preview the group’s upcoming ensemble trip to Cuba in December. The ensemble will sing “O Quam Gloriosum,” a passionate mass written by Spanish Renaissance composer Tomás Luis de Victoria as well as spirituals from composer Moses Hogan.

Hogan sang “Ride the Chariot,” arranged in the mid-20th century by William Henry Smith, for his 2006 album, “Negro Spirituals.” The piece provides a soulful contrast to the anguished sound of the Spanish mass and will feature a booming solo by Nathaniel Graves ’13 that will add to the piece’s rapid beat that resembles the galloping of a horse.

Glee club member Hallie Reichel ’18 noted the variety of the pieces — the group, she said, will sing in English, Latin and Spanish.

Guitarist and Boston University music professor John Muratore will accompany the glee club for its rendition of “Romancero Gitano, Op. 152,” a piece written by Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The composition, which means “gypsy ballads,” includes lyrics based on an arrangement of poems by Federico Garcia Lorca in the early 20th century intertwined with elaborate guitar.

“The rich harmonies and rhythmic variety are very appealing elements of this piece,” Muratore said. “They provide an intriguing experience for the audience and performers.”

The performance will mark one of the first times that the glee club features an even mix of voice parts.

“The blend of this group,” Burkot said, “is amazing.”

Sunday’s performance will begin at 2 p.m.