This one I am SO excited for! I will be singing the Baritone Solo in Brahms’ German Requiem with Symphony Silicon Valley in San Jose, CA. Not only is it probably my favorite of all the major works for chorus and orchestra, but I will be working once again with Maestro Gregory Vajda, who conducted the Bohème I did with Atlanta Opera this past fall. He is a passionate musician and a great guy, so I am very much looking forward to working with him again.
Information and tickets can be found at www.symphonysiliconvalley.org.
Brahms is one of my favorite composers of song. I love the way he writes so generously and naturally for that “slow and low” kind of vibe that a bass like myself likes. There is an earthiness about his music that I just can’t get enough of.
So I really fell in love with his body of song literature first. But then when I first heard and experienced the Brahms Requiem live, the profound greatness of the composer was forever confirmed in my mind. What was most amazing was to learn that he was only 35 years old when he completed it, having started it three years earlier. The picture I have used of him here is from about that time, showing not the wise, old, intense and bearded Brahms, but a fairly youthful-looking one. I got this image off a blog post I found which has quite a nice succession of pictures of Brahms through his life.
Whether you are a well-schooled lover of classical music or a complete newcomer to the vast repertoire of the great composers, I strongly recommend taking some time to familiarize or re-acquaint yourselves with one of the greatest pieces in the vast repertoire written for the human voice. Here is the Wikipedia page for the piece, which very nicely highlights one of the wonderful distinguishing characteristics of the piece:
Although the Requiem Mass in the Roman Catholic liturgy begins with prayers for the dead (“Grant them eternal rest, O Lord”), A German Requiem focuses on the living, beginning with the text “Blessed are those who bear pain: for they shall be comforted.” This theme—transition from anxiety to comfort—recurs in all the following movements except the final one. Although the idea of the Lord is the source of the comfort, the sympathetic humanism persists through the work.
On that note, I would like to acknowledge the passing of Dr. James McDonald. I was fortunate enough to study with him and his wife Ruth Ann during my time at Indiana University and for two summers in the German for Singers program at Middlebury College. His love for people, music, laughter, the voice and even the German language gave me and so many others a treasure chest of fond memories and wonderful lessons, both in and out of the studio. My performance in this Brahms Requiem will be dedicated to both the memory Dr. J and the life of Ruth Ann. How could anyone think of one and not the other?
For a beautiful site established by their daughter with many wonderful words from family, friends and former students, visit http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/drjamesjimmcdonald