Princeton Pro Musica arrives at Princeton University Chapel on Saturday, March 5, with “Passion and Resurrection.”
A concert of extremes, the event thematically explores Christ’s death by crucifixion and resurrection — two defining moments of Christianity — in music both contemporary and historic.
The former is Eriks Esenvalds’ 2005 “Passion and Resurrection,” which gives the concert its name.
Called by organizers as one of the most sought-after choral composers working today, Esenvald, born in Riga, Latvia, in 1977, has had his work performed by the Britten Sinfonia, the Choir of Trinity College Cambridge, Latvian Radio Choir, “Latvija” State Choir, Bavarian Radio Choir, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands National Children’s Choir, Swedish Art Vocal Ensemble, Salt Lake Vocal Artists, Temple University Philadelphia, Portland State University Chamber Choir, Choir of the West at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, University of Mississippi Concert Singers, and numerous others.
Recognition for the composer includes a first place award in the International ROSTRUM for composers in the young composer category (2006), laureate of the AKKA/LAA COPYRIGHT AWARD (2006), British Composer Awards Nomination (2010), Philadelphia Inquirer’s New-Composer Discovery (2010), and more.
Esenvalds says of his approach, “Parallel dramaturgy, hidden melody or motif, rhythmical patterns, dynamic scaling, etc., are just a few of the many powerful tools of composition. One can describe the composer as a painter, or filmmaker, or an actor performing live improvisation without any predictability. This is the most interesting part in the composition: which tools to choose to make the compositional idea or story come alive. If I am like a hippie dreamer or philosopher while thinking about the idea, then I am like a welder during the technical process of the composition. And there is no excuse if the philosophy and welding don’t fit together.” He has also calls the human voice “the most beautiful among the musical sounds.”
Late 19th century German composer Josef Rheinberger (1839-1901) will be represented by two works: Stabat Mater and Organ Concerto No. 2 in G minor.
The “Stabat Mater,” loosely translated as the “mother standing,” is based on ancient and traditional text to tell Christ’s passion through the experience of his mother, Mary, who walks with him as he carries the cross through Jerusalem and watches as her son dies on it.
Rheinberger was a prolific composer whose output includes four operas, 20 organ sonatas, 12 Masses, a Requiem, and two organ concertos.
The presentation will be conducted by Ryan James Brandau, artistic director of Princeton Pro Musica, Monmouth Civic Chorus, and Amor Artis in New York City. The soprano soloist is Esteli Gomez, who has performed with the Grammy-Award winning ensemble Room of Teeth. Princeton University Chapel organist Eric Plutz performs the organ concerto.
Passion and Resurrection, Princeton Pro Musica, Princeton University Chapel. Saturday, March 5, 8 p.m. $25 to $60.
Princeton Pro Musica closes its season with “American Voices,” featuring works by Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Alice Parker, John Corigliano, and new work by Rene Clauses, on Sunday, May 22, 4 p.m., Richardson Auditorium, Princeton University. 609-683-5122 or www.princetonpromusica.org.