Brattleboro Concert Choir – The Last Sunbeam: Music of Grief and Peace
April 26, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm
White Key by Reena Esmail and Dona nobis pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams both grapple with tragedy, and how we as humans process great loss. The first, White Key by the young Indian-American composer Reena Esmail, is about tragedy on a personal scale. Esmail sets a poem by Carol Muske-Dukes, which tells the impressionistic story of the poet’s journey by plane back to her home after receiving news of her husband’s sudden death. Esmail is a close friend of the poet’s daughter, and her piece reflects the deeply unsettled feeling of being aware of a great personal loss, but not yet physically experiencing it.
Dona nobis pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams is a piece about global tragedy, written in the years leading up to the Second World War. Vaughan Williams had witnessed the horror of the First World War as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps, and in 1936, when he was commissioned by the Huddersfield Choral Society to commemorate their 100th anniversary, he took the opportunity to address the rising political tensions in Europe with a deeply-felt warning about the realities of war, and an appeal to reconciliation and communal action for peace. Dona nobis pacem sets texts drawn from the Roman Catholic Mass, Biblical passages, an anti-war speech by 19th century British politician John Bright, Civil War poetry of Walt Whitman, and combines them into a prophetic plea for peace.