[Concert] Fin de Siècle / Nouvelles Idées

Hong Kong Bach Choir proudly present “Fin de Siècle / Nouvelles Idées” concert, an associated projecy with Le French May!

In their long-awaited return to Le French May, The Hong Kong Bach Choir & Orchestra pay tribute to French musical culture and to France’s relationships with the rest of the world – to its deep involvement with Asia and its status as a haven for political exiles.

Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem – in his preferred version for chamber orchestra – Jean Langlais’ Messe solennelle (with its elaborate organ accompaniment), and Olivier Messiaen’s O sacrum convivium! share a common ancestry in the long tradition of French composers who were both virtuoso organists and prominent teachers. But France has also been the center of Russian exile culture since 1917. Igor Stravinsky settled there in 1920, becoming a citizen in 1934. His influence was projected onto the younger generation of French and American composers through the teaching of Fauré’s pupil Nadia Boulanger, for whom Stravinsky’s works were an essential model in their clarity and rigor. His three unaccompanied motets, products of his French years, were written for liturgical use, and show a close relationship to traditional Slavonic church music, while still sounding clearly Stravinskian.

Joyce Wai-chung Tang is among Hong Kong’s leading home-grown composers. There’s a Certain Slant of Light, setting a poem by Emily Dickinson, was first performed by the Sregnis Singers in 2009. The only secular work on our program, its text’s references to “cathedral music” and to death lead naturally to the atmosphere of Fauré’s Requiem, sacred music by a resolutely secular composer.
Finally, The Hong Kong Bach Choir salutes Ned Rorem, among the 20th century’s greatest composers for the voice, following his death last November. Rorem spent his early years of compositional maturity living in France, and his music reflects the influence of “Les Six” – an influence that persists in When Mercy and Truth are Met, a setting of verses from Psalm 85.

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