Marguerite L. Brooks, conductor
Program (order subject to change)
Tree of Life (Robert Sirota)
Selections from Die Geburt Christi (Heinrich von Herzogenberg)
Dona nobis pacem from B Minor Mass (Johann Sebastian Bach)
See, amid the winter’s snow (arr. Willcocks)
Tree of Life, with music by Robert Sirota and text by Victoria Sirota, was inspired by the mosaics of Sir Edward Coley Burney-Jones as found in St. Paul’s Within the Walls in Rome. Victoria Sirota explains that “when you enter St. Paul’s Within the Walls in Rome, you are greeted on the apse wall behind the altar by a young Christ sitting on a throne and surrounded by angels so vividly depicted…that they seem as if they are hovering in the air around you.” For Sirota, the the mosaics themselves and descriptions by the artist inspired a vision of “the great Latin hymns and mass set by thousands of composers being sung continuously by heavenly choruses transcending time and space.” Tree of Life, in four movements and scored for SATB chorus and string quartet, attempts to thus “capture a piece of the ineffable, of that place between heaven and earth of which we only occasionally are given a brief glimpse.”
Heinrich von Herzogenberg (1843-1900) is relegated to comparative obscurity today, though in his lifetime he was at the center of German art music traditions. Close with Johannes Brahms, Herzogenberg stood as a friend, confidant, and steadfast supporter of his colleague. Herzogenberg was equally loyal to Johann Sebastian Bach; he worked in Graz to help fuel the revival of Bach’s music, eventually founding the Leipzig Bach-Verein. Die Geburt Christi (The Birth of Christ), was a collaboration between Herzogenberg and Philipp Spitta, a noted Bach scholar of the time. As a setting of the Christmas story, the work was completed in late 1894 and saw immediate success. The connections to the music of Bach are abundant, although Herzogenberg’s approach to harmony is distinctly of the late-19th-century style.
The program concludes with two Yale Camerata favorites: the glorious Dona nobis pacem from Bach’s B Minor Mass, and David Willcocks’ setting of the traditional See, amid the winter’s snow.