Choral so­ci­ety to of­fer con­certs

The Southern Berks News - - ENTERTAINMENT - From Susie Cough­lin

Un­der the di­rec­tion of RCS Mu­sic Di­rec­tor, Dr. Gra­ham Bier, Read­ing Choral So­ci­ety will be pre­sent­ing two con­certs ti­tled “A Cel­e­bra­tion of Peace.” The con­certs will be on Sun­day, Nov. 11, at 4 p.m. at Muh­len­berg High School Au­di­to­rium, Read­ing; and Tues­day, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Scha­ef­fer Au­di­to­rium at Kutz­town Univer­sity, Kutz­town.

The con­cert on Nov. 11, Vet­er­ans Day, is on the 100th an­niver­sary to the day of the sign­ing of the Ar­mistice that ended World War I. It con­sists of mu­sic tied to World War I and on the topic of peace. At each con­cert vet­er­ans will be hon­ored and are able to at­tend the con­certs for free.

The cen­ter­piece mu­sic is in the sec­ond half. Dona No­bis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Wil­liams was pre­vi­ously per­formed by RCS in April 1941, only five years af­ter com­po­si­tion as World War II raged in Europe and nine months be­fore the United States en­tered the war. It was writ­ten by Vaughan Wil­liams in 1937 in me­mory of World War I and in fear as ten­sions rose to­ward what would even­tu­ally break into the Sec­ond World War. The English com­poser sent his ap­pre­ci­a­tion “Many thanks to RCS for pre­sent­ing my can­tata, “Dona No­bis Pacem.” Bri­tain and Amer­ica are now go­ing for­ward to­gether in peace through free­dom.” In ad­di­tion to the text from the end of the Chris­tian mass move­ment “Agnus Dei”, Vaughan Wil­liams set po­etry by Walt Whit­man, whose writ­ing was in­flu­enced by his ex­pe­ri­ences as a vol­un­teer nurse in the Amer­i­can Civil War. The fifth move­ment also in­cludes text from a speech made by Quaker MP John Bright in 1855 against the Crimean War.

The first half of the con­cert will in­clude the mu­sic by Ge­orge But­ter­worth and is fit­ting since he him­self died in World War I. It was writ­ten to set po­etry “A Shop­shire Lad” by A. E. Hous­man that was com­pleted be­fore World War I but was pop­u­lar as “war po­etry” among com­posers of the time pe­riod since it talked a lot about moral­ity and young lads go­ing off to war. The mu­sic of Ben­jamin Brit­ten from his War Re­quiem was writ­ten to com­mem­o­rate the open­ing of the re­built Coven­try Cathe­dral, which was bombed beyond re­pair in World War II, and was writ­ten also in memo­riam of World War II losses. The Agnus Dei also in­cluded text of a poem by Wil­fred Owen, who like But­ter­worth, ac­tu­ally died in World War I as a soldier, and had been writ­ing mov­ing po­etry about the hor­rors of war from the front lines prior to be­ing killed in ac­tion. The Star Span­gled Ban­ner, Bat­tle Hymn of Repub­lic, “Keep the HomeFires Burn­ing”, and “We’re Go­ing Over” were all songs sung by the Lib­erty Cho­rus of Read­ing through­out 1918 at pop­u­lar events around Berks County rais­ing sup­port for troops, in­clud­ing an im­promptu per­for­mance at 2 p.m. in the crowded streets on Nov. 11.

In pre­par­ing for this con­cert, mem­bers of Read­ing Choral So­ci­ety have been in touch with the Berks His­tory Cen­ter, Berks County Vet­er­ans Af­fairs Of­fice and the Berks Mil­i­tary His­tory Mu­seum, who will have a dis­play at both con­certs. A small ensem­ble of RCS will be singing selec­tions of mu­sic pre­vi­ously sung by the Lib­erty Cho­rus at the Berks His­tory Cen­ter on Nov. 10, fol­low­ing the open­ing of the 1918 Time Cap­sule.

Soloists: Erin Al­corn, So­prano; Jar­rod Miller, Tenor; Joseph Beu­tel, Bass-Bari­tone. Muh­len­berg High School Se­lect Choir, di­rected by Bill Snelling. Kutz­town Univer­sity Or­ches­tra, di­rected by Pe­ter Isaac­son.

Tick­ets are $15 in ad­vance and $20 at door; Stu­dents $10. Vet­er­ans tick­ets are free.


Joseph Beu­tel, BassBari­tone


Jar­rod Miller, Tenor


Erin Al­corn, So­prano

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