Darkness to Light: Music for Holy Week & Easter

Saturday, March 31, 2018
4:00 pm
Darkness to Light: Music for Holy Week & Easter
Location: Duke Chapel
Duke Chapel Vespers Ensemble

This concert by the Duke Chapel Vespers Ensemble features The Seven Last Words of Jesus and Easter-Dialogue by Heinrich Schütz, as well as Cantata No. 4, Christ lag in Todesbanden, by Johann Sebastian Bach.

The concert is free, unticketed, and open to the public. Parking will be available for $5 in the Bryan Center Parking Garage. ADA parking will be in the Bryan Center Surface Lot.

The concert begins with music for Good Friday: The Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross have inspired many powerful compositions. The setting, by the German composer Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672), begins and ends with two verses of anonymous poetry about Christ’s Passion. In between, Schütz sets words from the four gospels, dividing the music between different voices, representing the different characters in the passion narrative. In contrast, Schütz’s Easter Dialogue is scored for just four voices and continuo. It tells the story of Jesus and Mary’s meeting in the Garden of Gethsemane after the resurrection. Schütz’s sense of drama is perfect: Mary’s anxiety is portrayed in agitated, fast notes, Jesus’s words with slow chords and expressive harmonies, and as Mary recognizes Jesus, the effect is simply beautiful.

Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata, Christ lag in Todesbanden, is Bach's first cantata composition for Easter and his earliest surviving chorale cantata: both text and music are based on Luther’s chorale (hymn) of the same name. Each verse is given to a different combination of voices to express the joy of the resurrection. The same melody is heard in Michael Praetorius’ spectacular 10-part motet Victimae Paschali which is composed in the “Venetian” style with three contrasting choirs.

The Duke Vespers Ensemble is joined by soloists, strings, lute, cornett and sackbuts in a program that spans the intense emotions of Holy Week and Easter: from grief to joy – from Darkness to Light.

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