ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” moves from suffering to the sublime.
This 13th-century hymn to Mary portrays her anguish during the crucifixion set to music in 1736. Pergolesi composed it during his final illness from tuberculosis in a Franciscan monastery. He finished it right before he died.
Santa Fe Pro Musica will perform this sacred work for its series of “Baroque Holy Week” concerts from Thursday, April 18, through Saturday, April 20, at the Loretto Chapel.
The Pro Musica Baroque Ensemble will present the work with soprano Clara Rottsolk and mezzo-soprano Meg Bragle. Flutist Carol Redman will open the program with Pergolesi’s Flute Concerto in G Major.
Rottsolk, praised for her “bell-like tone and faultless technique” by San Francisco Classical Voice, first sang “Stabat Mater” at the age of 9 in an all-girl choir conducted by her mother in her native Seattle.
“Both my parents were professional musicians,” she said. She began as a double performance major in both voice and flute at Rice University.
“I realized that was silly and I liked having words,” she said. “I always knew that was a stronger way for me to express myself.”
“Stabat Mater” is a deeply personal musical meditation on suffering and redemption.
Pergolsi “really understood the voice, he really understood the musicians,” Rottsolk said. “The challenge is to stay as close to the score as possible.
“It is timeless,” she continued. “It’s about an incredible human loss. Regardless of your faith preference, you have a story of a mother watching her son die. Pergolesi was dying and this was his last gift to the world. The final ‘amen’ is a beautiful release of the spirit.”
Rottsolk also sang in Pro Musica’s Baroque Christmas concert.
The singer now lives in Philadelphia, where she teaches at Swarthmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges.