NOTES FROM OUR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Alleluia. It’s a word commonly used to express praise and joy. Handel’s chorus from Messiah bearing that name is Western classical music’s archetypical expression of jubilation. American Randall Thompson’s “Alleluia” was composed in 1940 in the context of World War II and can be described as introspective and mournful. Ralph Manuel’s solemn seeing of the word was performed at a 1996 memorial service commemorating the one-year anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. Leonard Cohen’s folk/pop version is said to capture hope and brokenness. Even with this small sample, it’s clear that composers have found multiple layers of meaning to this seemingly simple expression.
In 2020, Boston-based composer Joshua Shank composed his own seeing of “alleluia,” inspired by the current pandemic. He writes: “As we entered quarantine, I sat down to write something that wasn’t commissioned but, rather, a form of self-care for me during this unprecedented time. It’s a seeing of the word ‘alleluia’ which, for me, has always been a word that expresses gratitude; being thankful for friends and family and music and laughter (and also sadness). The work that came out has some slow, legato moments but also bright, rhythmic stuff. And it ends with a thunderous B-major chord.”
Instead of the usual process of selling scores to choirs through publishers, Shank is offering the music to choirs directly in exchange for a donation to the Sweet Relief COVID-19 Fund. This charity offers relief for professional musicians, such as church section leaders, professional singers, accompanists, and adjunct faculty who need help paying for medical bills, health insurance, utility bills, groceries, etc. 100% of donations resulting from this project will go directly to the Sweet Relief COVID-19 Fund. To learn more about the project go to https://de.gofundme.com/f/new-choral-piece-to-raise-for-gigging-singers
The Hickory Choral Society is thrilled to be a part of this project and on Sunday, March 21 at 3pm, we will present a virtual choir rendition of Shank’s “alleluia (from quarantine)”. The video and photos accompanying the singing will acknowledge loss, but also demonstrate the many creative and inspirational ways in which people in our community have remained connected during this time. Composer Josh Shank will join me to introduce the performance and be on hand live for a brief interview and Q and A following the live mini concert. We hope you can join us!
– Dr. Ryan Luhrs, Artistic Director
Upcoming Spring Concerts
- Early Spring Mini Concert Sunday, March 21st – 3:00 PM
- Late Spring Mini Concert Sunday, May 9th – 3:00 PM
Start planning your watch parties now!