Chamber Chorale concert to feature ‘Mass of the Children’

The Minot Chamber Chorale will join forces with Western Plains Children’s Chorus and members of the Minot Symphony Orchestra to perform John Rutter’s “Mass of the Children” at 3 p.m. on Sunday in Minot State University’s Ann Nicole Nelson Hall.

The mass will be the featured work for the Chorale’s Choral Masterpiece Concert, which annually showcases major works by notable composers.

“I became aware of this particular work while researching Rutter’s “Requiem,” which we performed a few years ago,” said Conductor and Music Director Bob Demke. “Finding ways to collaborate with other area musicians always interests me. When young people are involved that makes it even more appealing.”

The primary challenge after choosing the repertoire was coordinating the schedules between the Chorale and Children’s Choir.

“Especially helpful was the fact that their current director is Jonathan Clark, who is also a member of the Chorale,” Demke noted.

Composed by Rutter two years after the sudden death of his son, “Mass of the Children” was first performed in 2003 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. While not as recognizable as his other extended works such as the “Gloria,” “Requiem” and “Magnificat,” “Mass of the Children” is a true expression of the composer’s eclectic style, with traditional liturgical text interwoven with English poetry.

“The work itself is uniquely Rutter,” Demke said. “His inspiration for the composition relates to his childhood experience singing in a Britten piece that combined mature voices with children’s voices. Unlike most works of this combination, Rutter gives the children’s voices a featured role rather than a supporting role.”

The Children’s Chorus opens the work with an energetic melody that mimics the energy and possibilities of a new day. From there Rutter offers an exciting blend of choral textures, instrumental sounds and solo passages by baritone and soprano soloists, all designed to take listeners through the entire realm of human emotion back to a beautiful, peaceful ending of the day.

“John Rutter understands the human voice and heart as well as any composer past or present. This is one of his finest,” Demke added.

The concert will mark the first time that “Mass of the Children” will be performed in the Minot area, according to Demke.

“I’m not aware of it being performed in this area or anywhere in North Dakota, for that matter,” he said. “We’re fortunate to have a children’s choir the quality of Western Plains Children’s Chorus in our community to make this dream come to fruition,” he said.

In addition to the mass, the Chorale will sing “Ubi Caritas,” by Ola Gjeilo, one of the most frequently performed choral composers, and “Evensong,” by classical music icon F. Joseph Haydn.

The concert is open to the public with no admission charged. A free-will offering will be accepted during intermission.