Imant Raminsh leads the AURA Chamber Choir in its spring concert

Imant Raminsh leads the AURA Chamber Choir in its spring concert

AURA brings light to spring concerts

Vernon chamber choir shows that music for the dead doesn’t have to be dreary

Composed for the souls of the deceased, a requiem could be considered a dour piece of music, or in Mozart’s case, a passion project cut short due to his own death.

However, AURA Chamber Choir is about to show a lighter side to the mass for the dead when it performs two requiems at its spring concerts, April 13 and 14 at All Saints Anglican Church.

Entitled Lux Æterna, Latin for eternal light, the concerts will feature the requiems written by French composers Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé.

“It’s not uncommon for these two masses to be paired, however, this is the first time AURA has done them together,” said Imant Raminsh, the choir’s founder and leader. “It’s comforting music. There’s no emphasis on the fear of hell or retribution like in Mozart’s requiem. They are more optimistic; looking forward to the after life and paradise.”

Composed before the turn of the 20th century, Fauré’s  Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 is written for orchestra, organ, mixed chorus and two soloists, while Duruflé’s The Requiem, Op. 9 was composed just after the Second World War, and was written for a SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, baritone) choir with mezzo-soprano and baritone soloists.

Although AURA will not have a full orchestra accompaniment, it will feature Marjorie Close on All Saints’ pipe organ, while AURA co-director Terry Logan will perform on piano.

George Kiraly has also been invited to play the obbligato cello solo from Duruflé’s requiem, while vocalists, Penticton’s Mia Harris and Donald Goerzen, who is coming in from Calgary, will sing the mezzo soprano and baritone parts respectively.

Vernon soprano Miya Doige is also performing the Pie Jesu from the Fauré requiem.

The concert is a sneak peek of what’s to come when AURA celebrates its 35th anniversary in 2014 with a full performance of  Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor K, 427, which will be a B.C. Interior premiere, said Raminsh.

“In Mozart’s lifetime there are two pieces he never finished, his requiem and his grand mass, although he completed portions of it,” said Raminsh. “At the time he was rediscovering the music of Bach, and (the mass) is reminiscent of Bach’s Mass in B minor. Mozart also couldn’t escape opera and so there is that influence as well.”

Written in 1782 and 1783, Mozart’s first son, Raimund Leopold, died around that time, and so it is believed that the composer put the work aside because of the painful events in his life, said Raminsh.

The mass has made a recent revival, however, with a new version written by composer Robert Levin and conducted by Helmut Rilling for the 2006 Mozart anniversary year.

“Levin took the original music and also studied some of the other music Mozart was working on at the time and filled in the parts that were missing,” said Raminsh.

The result is a large work, 80 minutes in its entirety.

“We are hoping to raise money for an orchestra and we already have some fine soloists from the Okanagan and Kamloops joining us,” said Raminsh.

Sopranos Alexandra Babbel of Kelowna and Stephanie Nakagawa of Salmon Arm, as well as bass Allen Corbishley from Kamloops and Thomas Bijok, a tenor also from Kamloops who has studied in Prague, will join AURA, which is expecting to start rehearsals in the fall.

“We are inviting back all AURA singers and other interested choral singers from the community to join us. It is a demanding work so the singers will need some agility, and if they are interested they can audition,” said Raminsh.

AURA performs Lux Æterna Saturday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, April 14 at 2 p.m. at All Saints Anglican Church, 3205 27th St., Vernon. Tickets are available from choir members, at the door and at the Bean Scene Coffee House. Adults are $18; students are free. Extra parking is available across the street from the church in the Beairsto school parking lot.

More information is available at aurachamberchoir.com, email aurachoir@gmail.com or phone 250-542-8118.