Haydn’s The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross is a luminous, compact jewel, a deeply felt, subtly colored contemplation of Christ’s crucifixion that lasts less than an hour.
Wednesday night two gifted ensembles—the Florida-based a cappella chorus Seraphic Fire and Chicago’s own Spektral Quartet—combined forces for an unusual and potent version of Haydn’s work at Rockefeller Chapel in the University of Chicago Presents series.
Rockefeller Chapel welcomes Minnesota gem VocalEssence at the next Quire & Place concert, Sunday, March 2 at 3 pm. The performance will feature a collection of American and Mexican choral music of the kind championed by VocalEssence, including the première performance of Timothy Takach’s new work To Love, To Be Swallowed Up. Takach’s work is receiving broad notice for its strong melodic lines and intriguing harmonies.
A bit of live concert serendipity intruded on the Tallis Scholars concert Friday night at Rockefeller Chapel when screaming police sirens en route to a crime scene forced director Peter Phillips to stop his singers after the first bar of a setting of Nunc dimittis (“Lord, now let thy servant depart in peace.”).
Happily, there were no other interruptions and the venerable early music ensemble continued with its discerning and tasteful program of seasonal sacred music. The event was presented by the University of Chicago Concert series and played to a surprisingly full house in the vast space.
Compared to the performance of Bach’s epic St. Matthew Passion that drew a thousand people to a Lincoln Park church in April, the second event offered in Chicago by Soli Deo Gloria was a relatively intimate affair.
The Glen Ellyn-based organization presented the premiere of James MacMillan’s new choral work, Alpha and Omega Saturday afternoon at Rockefeller Chapel. The Soli Deo Gloria commission was heard as part of the annual “Best of Rockefeller” concerts, presented in collaboration with Crossway publications and the University of Chicago.