In my Sunday Spotlight column, I got to sing the praises of Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna,” a beautiful contemporary choral work done in the style of a classic Requiem Mass. The piece was performed by the Fresno Community Chorus Master Chorale Sunday at Shaghoian Hall. In my column, conductor Anna Hamre explained the genius of the composer:
I believe that he, better than any other living composer, has written music that resonates with singers in this country. Lauridsen is the one who uses compositional techniques that create emotions the bulk of contemporary society recognizes as true. Listeners hear his music and not only reflect on the beauty of sound, but they think, “That is just how I feel.” This piece touches the singers so deeply that they want their friends to come so they can share with them.
I’m so glad I was able to attend Sunday’s concert, which was packed. The chorus offered a wonderfully prepared, moving performance of both the Lauridsen and the Faure Requiem. There can be something immensely tender and contemplative about hearing a requiem performed — a liberating permissiveness to let your mind can drift back in time to a way things once were, remembering those who are no longer with us. I listened to the music and wanted to hug my departed grandparents. That made me sad. And at the same time it made me deeply happy to be able to indulge in those memories.
More than anything, the concert reinforced something I fundamentally believe: that making music together is one of the great feats of being human.
Yes, we might live in a time of great technological prowess, from charting subatomic particles and zipping around in supersonic jets to being able to transmit a photo halfway round the world at the touch of a button. And, yes, we might also live in a time of great strife and pain, with hunger and pervasive violence, and you can seriously get overwhelmed at the stinking enormity of it all. But just think: Within us as humans there is the potential for greatness. A choir and orchestra are not there as individuals. The act of 150 people singing together — so in sync with each other that it’s as if they’re one organism — is an astonishing accomplishment. It might sound cheesy, but if those proverbial space aliens were to arrive tomorrow and ask for a tour of humanity, I would have them experience — along with the Golden Gate Bridge and my iPhone — the Fresno Community Chorus singing “Lux Aeterna.” And I would say: There is hope.