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NM Symphonic Chorus opens season with Dvorák, Górecki

Roger Melone

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The New Mexico Symphonic Chorus will open the season by traveling from the 19th century to the 20th century with a nod to nature.

The chorus of more than 70 singers will perform Czech composer Anton Dvorák’s “Songs of Nature” at Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Sunday, Oct. 13.

Consisting of a musical setting of selected poems by Vitezslav Halek, the text features rural themes with melodic charm. The composer based the music on traditional folk songs.

“I just think it’s delightfully gay and beautiful and it’s perfect to go with the kind of music we’re singing,” conductor Roger Melone said.

Jumping a century, Polish composer Henryk Górecki penned”Totally Yours” for unaccompanied mixed choir in 1987. Górecki composed the piece to celebrate Pope John Paul II’s third pilgrimage to his native Poland that summer.

“He conducted a Mass in Warsaw in this huge courtyard in the town square,” Melone said. “It’s all about the Virgin Mary.”

Twentieth century masters Arvo Pärt and Charles Ives follow with their own liturgical works.

After the American modernist died, Ives’ widow said his version of Psalm 90 was the only work with which he was satisfied.

“It’s almost like movie music,” Melone said. “He’s describing the words of the psalm and the wrath of God.”

Ives penned the work for accompanying organ and bells.

Pärt set the Latin text of the Magnificat canticle in 1989.

“He’s an Estonian composer who writes what sounds very liturgical,” Melone said. “I think he writes gorgeously for chorus.”

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