Vesper Concert Series Goes French

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March 12th, 2014

Omaha, NE — The Vesper Concerts Series concludes its 25th season with French finale and looks to the future with a focus on young musicians.

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vesperDue to overwhelming positive feedback, the Vesper Concerts Series will continue its “Youth Composes” program into a second year. Dana Sloan, Director of Vesper Concerts, says this is a great way for young performers to better understand music.

“Because we feel that one of the ways a young person can become a better musician is to understand the construction of music, and what better way than to actually compose?” said Sloan.

The program includes composition workshops for participants and the submitted works will be reviewed and ranked, with a concert featuring the winning selections next season. To conclude this season Vesper Concerts presents a program called “The French Connection,” featuring a world-class guest conductor.

“Judith Clureman is a freelance conductor from New York City.” Sloan said. “She has been nominated for both Emmy and Grammy awards, and she was last in Omaha when she prepared the Chorus with the Omaha Symphony for their presentation of the Brahms Requiem last November.”

This time Clurman will be on the podium to conduct Creighton University Chamber Choir, select vocal soloists, and the Omaha Symphony Chamber Orchestra. They will perform a very different requiem by Maurice Durufle. Sloan says this work is light, deliberate, and never heavy-handed.

“Wonderfully beautiful, lyric setting based on the plainchant melodies of the requiem mass. I think if I were pushed to characterize it in one word, I would say ‘sublime’.”

Durufle also had a hand in creating the second work on the program: the Organ Concerto by Francis Poulenc. Durufle advised Poulenc and helped prepare the manuscript for publication. Sloan, who will be the organ soloist, says Concerto includes some very challenging passages.

“Because Poulenc was not an organist, there is some awkward writing for the organ, and some unexpected twists and turns of lines that are counterintuitive that one has to reconcile themselves to doing and saying, ‘OK, I’m going to play it just the way it’s written’,” said Sloan. “I was in Paris about three years ago and played bits and pieces of the concerto on Durufle’s instrument, and so I have an interesting insight into the sounds that might be required.”

In spite of the technical difficulties, Sloan says the work is musically very rewarding.

“It’s a piece that alternates between quite lovely lyricism, severe gravity, and a lot of frolicsome and playfulness. It’s a wonderful piece to listen to.”

The Vesper Concerts season finale, “French Connection,” will be Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm at the Presbyterian Church of the Cross. The concert is free and open to the public, and more information is available at vesperconcerts.org.

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