University of King's College Chapel Choir, directed by Paul Halley
For All The Saints: Schnittke Requiem
with pipe organ, piano, celeste, trumpet, trombone, electric bass, electric guitar, and percussion
Sun, Nov 3, 2019 at 4pm
The University of King's College Chapel Choir's annual For All The Saints concert features a great work that honours those who have gone before. This year’s centrepiece is the Requiem (Mass for the dead) by German-Soviet composer Alfred Schnittke, written in 1974-1975 following the death of the composer’s mother. The piece is scored for choir, soloists, trumpet, trombone, organ, piano, celeste, electric bass and guitar, and a huge array of percussion instruments such as drum set, marimba, timpani, flexaton, vibraphone, and more, resulting in a quite astonishing soundscape.
Schnittke was born in 1934 in the Volga German republic of the Soviet Union, to Russian-German, Jewish and Catholic heritage. Schnittke was composing in a dangerous and, for many, a dreadful time and place in history. His music often came under suspicion and scrutiny by the Soviet authorities, not least of all because he had converted to Christianity in his adulthood and held strong mystic beliefs. He was considered one of the Soviet Union’s ‘nonconformist’ artists.
Director Paul Halley says, “I first encountered Schnittke’s compositions when I toured what was then the Soviet Union in 1984 and I was overwhelmed by the grit and power of his music. His voice was, and still is, utterly unique. His Requiem is truly the most dramatic, I would even say, shocking, setting of the text that I have ever heard. This mass for the dead is a haunting portrayal of chaos, despair, and darkness, but also of profound hope and exquisite beauty.”
For All The Saints 2019 will also feature works by English renaissance composers William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons, the lovely setting of How They So Softly Rest by Canadian composer Healey Willan, the Te Deum composed for King’s College, Cambridge, by Herbert Howells, the iconic Lux Aeterna by Edward Elgar, and a new setting of the Nunc Dimittis (Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace) by Paul Halley, composed this past summer for Christ Church, Calgary.
The University of King’s College Chapel Choir comprises 24 singers from across Canada who study at King’s College and Dalhousie University and a handful of non-student Layclerks who act as mentors for the student choristers. The choir offers choral and organ scholarships to eligible students, and the choir’s primary function is to sing at the weekly Evensongs and Eucharists in the King’s College Chapel, as well as other major services throughout the academic year.
Directed by five-time Grammy winner Paul Halley since 2007, the choir has become well-known for its annual King’s at the Cathedral concert series, which includes a major performance for All Saints (For All The Saints), a December tour of Christmas concerts (A King’s Christmas), and performances of a Baroque masterwork each spring with instrumentalists and soloists from North America and Europe. The choir’s performances have been broadcast nationally on CBC Radio 2, and featured in CBC Music’s top picks of choral events to attend across Canada. The choir’s CD, Let Us Keep the Feast: Music for the Church Year, was released in December 2013 to launch the University of King’s College 225th anniversary and received the Outstanding Choral Recording Award from Choral Canada. For more information, please visit www.ukings.ca/the-chapel-choir, www.youtube.com/kingschapelchoir (including live concert recordings), and www.facebook.com/kingschapelchoir.