by Jesse Ratcliffe
The Baroque Musical era spanned the years 1600 - 1750. In those one hundred and fifty years, musical composition sought new forms of complexity and beauty. Composers of this period left us works wholly inspired by the Almighty that will last for centuries to come. Heavenly Rest will host a musical experience featuring some of these works by Handel, Bach, Pachelbel, and Vivaldi on Friday, December 9th, at 7:00 p.m. The choirs of this Parish, McMurry, and of Hardin-Simmons will join voices (nearly 40!) to sing the ever-cheerful Gloria by Antonio Vivaldi; three choruses from Handel’s Messiah and the organ will resound chorale preludes and toccatas by Pachelbel and Bach.
The core of this concert will be Vivaldi's Gloria. Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), a native of Venice, was both a composer and violin virtuoso. The text of this 30-minute work is the “Gloria in Excelsis” from the Ordinary of the Mass. Vivaldi took each phrase of the mass and set it to music that mirrors the effect of the text. This work is set for a four-part chorus and solos for two sopranos and one alto.
George Frederick Handel (1685-1759) composed the entirety of Messiah in twenty-four days (mind you, that’s two and a half hours' worth of music!). The oratorio was first performed in 1742 and today it is recognized as one of the best-known choral works in Western music. Three choruses that highlight Handel’s compositional skill and the chorus’ vocal agility; And the Glory of the Lord, For Unto Us A Child is Born, and Glory to God; will follow the Gloria.
The concert will begin with a chorale prelude to the Advent hymn Savior of the Nations Come by German “middle Baroque” composer Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706). Canon in D is Pachelbel’s most famous work, but the bulk of his keyboard compositions were for organ. The prelude features intricate passage work in the hands as the melody is played in the pedal. A toccata composed by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), the capstone composer of the Baroque era, will close the program. Those in attendance will be invited to join the choirs in the singing of the beautiful chorales Savior of the Nations, Come and Sleepers Wake!
The choruses will be accompanied by a string quartet, trumpet (David Amlung), oboe (Susie Rockett), and harpsichord (Van Hayes). We are thankful to the Abilene Opera Association for allowing us to use their beautiful harpsichord.
Each of Bach’s manuscripts would include “Soli Deo Gloria” (Glory to God Alone) as he found it vital to show his work was driven by the divine. The musicians of this event pray that you may be inspired by their work and the work of the composers of so long ago.