Te Deum, led by its artistic director Matthew Christopher Shepard, will present “Cathedral Classics” in two performances — May 25 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and May 26 at Village Presbyterian Church. The Memorial Day weekend concerts will feature beloved music for a cappella chorus.
Shepard is taking a liturgical approach to the program by dividing it up into sections like “Prayers of the contrite,” “Scriptures” and “Prayers of Memorial Weekend.” The “contrite” section includes the hauntingly beautiful Miserere by Antonio Allegri, written in the 1630s for the Sistine Chapel choir.
In 1770, when Mozart was 14, he visited the Vatican and heard the Sistine Chapel choir perform Allegri’s Miserere. The young Mozart was so moved that as soon as he could, he returned to his room and wrote down the work note for note from memory.
Other standouts on the Te Deum program are Samuel Barber’s “Agnus Dei,” set to his famous Adagio, American folksongs and an excerpt from Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Vespers. A special highlight is the Hymn to the Virgin by Benjamin Britten. For his text, Britten chose an English poem written around 1300. The words praise the Mother of God and reference the Nativity, marking this as a medieval Christmas carol, but Britten’s lovely, tender setting is welcome any time.
7:30 p.m. May 25 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, 416 W. 12th St. and 3 p.m. May 26 at Village Presbyterian Church, 6641 Mission Road, Prairie Village. $15-$20. www.te-deum.org/concerts.
Musica Vocale season finale
Musica Vocale is concluding its 11th season with a concert that is also a bold challenge. “Resist: Challenging State and Circumstance” takes on issues like oppression and violence, while also offering hope and peace.
The centerpiece of the program is “American DREAMers” by Melissa Dunphy, an Australian-American composer. Dunphy took the writings of young undocumented persons in the United States and turned their stories into a touching, multi-movement a cappella work.
The program, conducted by Musica Vocale’s artistic director Arnold Epley and associate artistic director Jay Carter, will also include Zachary Taylor’s “War-Dreams,” which focuses on the violence and tragedy often facing migrants. Complementing the more modern works is “Bow thine ear, O Lord” by the Elizabethan composer William Byrd and “O vos omnes” by legendary cellist and peace activist Pablo Casals.
These works from different eras and different parts of the world underline the scope of the refugee crisis while also emphasizing the universal nature of human qualities like empathy, love and charity. Epley recently celebrated his 80th birthday, and this concert is a fitting testimony to one of Kansas City’s most inspirational teachers.
5 p.m. May 19 at Sacred Heart – Guadalupe, 2544 Madison and 7 p.m. May 20 at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont Street, Lawrence. Free. To learn more about Musica Vocale, visit www.musicavocale.org.
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