John Brown University’s Cathedral Choir is performing with the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas this Saturday.
Paul Smith, the head of the University’s department of music and the director of the choir, said the symphony has had a relationship with the University and its choir for 20 to 30 years. The choir doesn’t have to petition to perform with the symphony; the symphony solicits the University’s choir.
The piece they are performing is “Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45” by Johannes Brahms, a 19th century, 94-page choral work translated as “A German Requiem.”
Becky Pohle, the administrative assistant for the University’s department of communication and fine arts, said the piece has a beautiful, spiritual meaning.
“I think the choir is viewing this as a ministry to members of the symphony,” said Pohle.
Smith said the requiem is among the top five major choral works of all time. The piece is the first requiem to be written in vernacular German, as all requiems before this piece were written in Latin. With this piece, Germans in the 19th century were able to appreciate not only the musical composition, but also the spiritual meaning of the message.
“This is a significant work of music,” said Smith. “It was written for a concert mass, not a church service.”
Other works of the time were written for church masses.
Freshman Jocie Morgan, a member of the choir, said performing such a challenging piece during her first year is like “being thrown in the water and expected to know how to swim.”
“This is one of the hardest but most rewarding choral works we’ve done,” said junior Alec Warn. “It is very cool to perform a choral work this big that was originally written to move the hearts of others towards God in a church setting, while also having the opportunity to unite with others in glorifying God with the gifts He has given us, to create something so much bigger than we ever could alone.”
The choir will be rehearsing Thursday and Friday evening in the Berry Performing Arts Center. If people will be “attentive and respectful,” they are more than welcome to sit-in to listen to the rehearsals, said Smith.
Smith expects the performance to be sold out. The show will be at 7:30p.m. on Saturday evening at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville.