Maurice Durufle’s Requiem, adapted for tenor and bass chorus by Artistic Director Thea Kano and presented by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, was performed at the Church of the Epiphany on March 3, 2018. Requiem featured the vocal talents of soprano Breanna Sinclairé, as well as a full accompaniment of instrumentalists including organist Jeremy Fishell.
Prior to performing Requiem, the Rock Creek Singers made their way through Durufle’s Messe Cum jubilo, which consisted of five movements. This piece was bolstered by the presence of rich baritones. The Church of the Epiphany made for a perfect setting, with it’s Gothic Revival design and warm acoustics. The mysticism of Messe Cum jubilo emanated from the Rock Creek Singers and made for an enjoyable warm up for Requiem.
As was mentioned in the program, Requiem was written by Durufle in 1947 as a, “…celebration of his father’s life and a prayer for his peaceful eternal rest.” The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington more than does justice to the work, allowing it to swell in the early movements and settle in gently. It does not resemble a funeral dirge, but an insistent celebration. The adaptation by Artistic Director Thea Kano, who also conducts, allowed the tenor and bass voices to comingle in a way that added a fresh take to the work.
Soprano and Baltimore native Breanna Sinclairé was the shining star of this production. Her rendition of the “Pie Jesu” movement was crystal clear and left me wanting to hear more. Her brief feature in this program earned her multiple standing ovations, which were well deserved.
Another highlight of the piece was the final movement, “In Paradisum.” The Latin lyrics invite the listener into Paradise. The gentle rise of the accompaniment with the chorus is ethereal. Harpist Isabelle Frouvelle was prominent, allowing this movement to come to its resolution with fading voices and soft strings.
Durufle’s Requiem is as much a testament to life as it is to death. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington treats this material with care. Their ability to communicate human sentiment through song is unmatched and makes for a wonderful evening, regardless of whether their content is serious or lighthearted. After having gotten a taste of Breanna Sinclairé’s opera prowess, I am excited for their TransAmerica concert in June, in which she will also be featured.
Maurice Durufle’s Requiem was performed on March 3, 2018 at The Church of the Epiphany— 1317 G St NW in Washington, DC. Information about upcoming concerts featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington can be found online.