It’s now only ten days away from the memorial concert for Carl Crosier in which the Lutheran Church of Honolulu Choir and the Hawai’i Vocal Arts Ensemble will join forces to sing Maurice Duruflé’s beloved Requiem on Sunday, November 1st at 7:00 pm. Many people have called the church office asking about this performance and the advice has been: Get to the church early! The concert is at 7:00 pm and doors will open at 6:30 pm. The parking lot directly behind the church will be reserved for handicapped concertgoers. Others may park in the church’s additional lot on Poki Street. Because parking is always a challenge in the dense Makiki neighborhood, on-street parking may be found on Wilder Avenue. I myself will start looking for on-street parking around 6:00 pm.
In doing research about Duruflé (1902-1986) I found a biography written by James E. Frazier, a retired church organist and director of music from St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in St. Paul, MN, called Maurice Duruflé; The man and his music. I looked at the table of contents and was amazed that there is one whole chapter devoted to just the Requiem. This is what he says about the work:
Duruflé’s greatest composition, the Requiem, Op. 9, completed in September 1947, enjoys a reputation as one of the undisputed masterpieces of the twentieth-century choral repertoire. The single piece most responsible for establishing his fame worldwide, it continues to enjoy frequent performances in the West and the East alike. Reviewers have described it as softly luminous, sumptuous, suffused with a tender radiance, of a noble and restrained eloquence and a sweet and serene light, a work of scrupulous craft and exquisite sensibility, having beautiful unity and real grandeur.
Part of the book is excerpted on the MauriceDuruflé.com website, and Frazier writes that the composer was greatly influenced by chant. Duruflé said that his music was written in a rather conservative language and said “I have always been surrounded by Gregorian chant, which is of course rather traditional.”
So many of you who attended Carl Crosier’s funeral on September 6, 2014 remarked on the pureness and beauty of the ancient Gregorian chants sung by a women’s choir. Some people said they hadn’t heard these chants since the 1960s. You may want to go back and read my post, “Carl’s final gift,” and listen to the audio clip of “In paradisum.”
Hey, listening to the audio from the funeral would be excellent preparation for listening to Duruflé’s treatment of the same melodies, which he used in his Requiem. You can hear the complete audio of the service at my post, “Requiem.”
Carl was explicit in his last wishes that his funeral mass contain the simple Gregorian chant, contrary to what most people would have expected from a man who was obsessed with the works of Bach. (But we did have Bach in the pre-service music, which was also Carl’s suggestion.) He then said to me, “On the one year anniversary, why don’t you put on the Duruflé Requiem and invite Tim Carney to conduct, and bring Jonathan Dimmock over to play the organ?”
That’s what we’re doing, Carl! Just following orders!
Details about the concert can be found on the ArtsHawaii website. In addition to the Requiem, Duruflé’s motet, Ubi caritas, will be sung, as well as the world premiere of Frank Ferko’s Missa O Magne Pater, written on Carl’s suggestion.