Charlotte Master Chorale to Make Debut
Formed as the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte, the newly named Charlotte Master Chorale will make its "debut" with Johannes Brahms's "Ein deutsches Requiem."
The Charlotte Master Chorale will make its debut performance in November with Johannes Brahms’s “Ein deutsches Requiem,” a piece that deviates from traditional Requiems by providing solace for the living rather than focusing on the departed. Led by Artistic Director Dr. Kenney Potter, the Charlotte Master Chorale will bring the Requiem to life with its 130-voice membership through performances Saturday, November 17 at Wingate University and Sunday, November 18 at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte.
The decision to open the Charlotte Master Chorale debut season with “Ein deutsches Requiem,” otherwise known as the “German Requiem,”, was easy for Potter, who notes the piece as one of the most beloved choral works in music history because of its themes of hope and comfort.
“Historically, from Mozart up to Verdi, the famous Requiems have been written with the focus on the departed,” Potter said. “But Brahms took a different perspective; he wrote his Requiem for the surviving and the survivors, as solace. As such, Brahms chose to write the piece in German, the language of his people, to make it more accessible to them.”
Written over a period of 15 years, “Ein deutsches Requiem” was Brahms’s first major composition. He wrote it initially with only six movements for an 1868 premiere, adding what would become the ethereal fifth movement, featuring soprano soloist and choir, a year after its premiere.
The emotional intensity and cathartic power the Requiem delivers is often attributed to Brahms’s grief over the death of his close friend Robert Schumann as well as the loss of his mother. Almost all movements of Brahms’s “Ein deutsches Requiem” connect Bible verses from the Old and New Testaments, as well as a few verses from the Apocrypha, leading listeners on a journey from mourning to consolation. The last word of the piece is the same as the first word: “selig” or “blessed,” allowing Brahms to leave listeners with a message of hope.
The listener need not know or understand the words to be moved emotionally by this work.
“The listener need not know or understand the words to be moved emotionally by this work,” Potter said. “In a time in our history that many people find very unsettling, we are pleased to bring ‘Ein deutsches Requiem’ to life so listeners can experience the sense of peace and solace that Brahms intentionally wove throughout this masterpiece.”
Connecting the choral masterworks with the realities of the present in order to move and inspire audiences is the mission of the Charlotte Master Chorale. As a new, independent organization, with a 130-member auditioned chorus, the Charlotte Master Chorale is poised for its first season, which Potter has programmed to include familiar chorales from Brahms and Handel, as well as modern-day works from composers such as Kile Smith.
“The Charlotte Master Chorale is committed to a highly engaging level of choral performance with a repertoire that allows us to continually challenge ourselves as musicians,” Potter said. “We look forward to a long relationship of musical excellence with the Charlotte region.”
The Charlotte Master Chorale will perform “Ein deutsches Requiem” at 4 p.m. Saturday, November 17 at McGee Theatre at Wingate University, with tickets available through ticketreturn.com. The group will offer a second performance at First United Methodist Church, 501 N. Tryon St., Charlotte, at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, November 18. Tickets for the Charlotte performance can be purchased at carolinatix.org.