Russian composers are among some of the most beloved musicians in history. Their music has a romantic and intense quality that can simultaneously touch and break your heart. On Monday February 27, Utah Chamber Artists will present their “Psalms & Symphonies” concert. On the program is Igor Stravinsky’s famous “Symphony of Psalms” which Time magazine called “the most important work of the 20th Century.” Very few choral groups attempt this piece as it is very difficult. Stravinsky said himself that his music is difficult. He once remarked that it isn’t the notes in his music that make it difficult, it’s the rests.
But Igor isn’t the only Russian composer on the program that evening. In the first half of the concert the choir will sing a variety of psalms. Two of which are by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Pavel Chesnokov, both 19th Century composers. These a capella pieces are both called “We Hymn Thee” and are different than psalms taken from biblical texts. They are called psalmi idiotici and are private psalms, meaning compositions by individuals in imitation of the biblical Psalter.
The music is haunting, a little dark and utterly heartbreaking. One might be grateful that they simply get to hear such lovely music rather than live during a time of such strife and oppression that facilitated such devastatingly beautiful writing.
What: “Psalms & Symphonies”
When: Monday, February 27, 7:30 PM
Where: Libby Gardner Concert Hall
Why: To embrace your modernism and hear the most important work of the 20th Century.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students. You can buy tickets at the door or online at www.kingtix.com
Below is a rehearsal clip with Utah Chamber Artists Artistic Director Barlow Bradford attempting to get the choir to channel their 19th century oppressed Russian while singing Chesnokov’s “We Hymn Thee.”