Oberlin Musical Union

Parkorn Wangpaiboonkit, manager
Travis Gu, pianist

Spring 2013

Maurice Duruflé: Requiem

Oberlin Musical Union
Scott VanOrnum, organist
Jason Harris, conductor

From Dr. Harris: "This May we will perform the beautiful and haunting Requiem of Maurice Durufle. Durufle was a French organist, one of the finest of his generation. He composed thie Requiem around 1947 in memory of his father who had recently passed. Durufle was particularly interested in chant, and through this love of monody the entire work is based upon fragments of Gregorian melodies which creates some of the most moving and ethereal moments in all of western art music. It is one of the first pieces of music I performed as a singer and I am happy to be sharing this gorgeous and other-worldly music with you."

Musical Union last performed this work in 2002 under the direction of Dr. Hugh Floyd. Recordings of that concert can be obtained from the Audio Services office.

"We will be joined for this concert by a fantastic organist from Michigan, Scott VanOrnum, who I have had the pleasure of working with on a number of occasions. Also on this concert will be the Oberlin Treble Ensemble and College Choir (who are NOT joining us for the Requiem), performing a few pieces by French composers, including Faure's Cantique de Jean Racine and Durufle's Four Motets. It will be a magnificent evening featuring all of our wonderful Oberlin choral ensembles."

"I have been asked on a few occasions what recording I would recommend to you all to assist with learning the score. Here are a few options, although some of which utilize the chamber orchestra arrangement Durufle created after his original organ score:"

The English Chamber Orchestra, Matthew Best, cond.

Voices of Ascension, Dennis Keene, cond.

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Robert Shaw, cond.

King's College Choir, Cambridge, organ version

Aarhus Cathedral Choir, complete organ works

I think any of these recordings would serve you all well, not just for the sake of practicality, but for maintaining your spiritual self as well.


MU Resources

This concert was Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wikipedia article on the Requiem

CyberBass media player for part work.

MIDI files from Learn Choral Music

Durufle on his requiem:

"This work, completed in 1947, was written in its original version for solo, choir, orchestra, and organ. A transcription of the orchestra part was realized for organ alone as well for reduced orchestra.

"This Requiem is composed entirely on the Gregorian themes of teh Mass for the Dead. Sometimes the musical text has been respected in full, the orchestra intervening only to sustain or to comment on it; sometimes I was simply inspired by it or sometimes removed myself from it altogether; for example, in certain developments suggested by the Latin text, namely in the Domine Jesu Christe, the Sanctus, and the Libera. Generally speaking, I tried to get the particular style of teh Gregorian themes firmly set in my mind.

"I also endeavored to reconcile as much as possible the Gregorian rhythm, as has been established by the Benedictines of Solesmes, with the demands of modern metrical notation. The rigidness of the latter, with its strong beats and weak beats recurring at regular intervals, is hardly compatible with the variety and fluidity of the Gregorian line, which is only a succession of reses and falls.

"The strong beats had to lose their dominant character in order to take on the same intensity as the weak beats in such a way that the rhythmic Gregorian accent or the tonic Latin accent could be placed freely on any beat of our modern tempo.

"As for the musical form of each of the pieces composing this Requiem, it is generally inspired by the form proposed by the liturgy. The organ has only an incidental role. It intervenes, not to accompany the choirs, but only to underline certain accents or to make one momentarily forget the all too humansonorities of the orchestra. It represents the idea of peace, of Faith, and of Hope.

"This Requiem is not an ethereal work which sings of detachment from earthly worries. It reflects, in the ummutable form of the Christian prayer, the agony of man faced with the mystery of his ultimate end. It is often dramatic, or filled with resignation, or hope or terror, just as the words of the Scripture themselves which are used in the liturgy. It tends to translate human feelings before their terrifying, unexplainable or consoling destiny.

"This Mass includes the nine parts of the Mass of the Dead; the Introit, Kyrie, Domine Jesu Christe, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna, Libera me, and finally In Paradisum, the ultimate answer of Faith to all the questions, by the flight of the soul to Paradise."

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Musical Union rehearses Monday nights from 7:15-9:30pm onstage in Finney Chapel or other locations as announced. Musical Union is open to all who wish to join, student or community resident alike.