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Santa Fe Pro Musica Ensemble plays Pergolesi’s ‘Stabat Mater’

SANTA FE, N.M. — April marks the 32nd year Santa Fe Pro Musica has staged its not-necessarily-sacred Baroque Holy Week concerts at the Loretto Chapel.

The 2015 version runs from Thursday, April 2 through Saturday, April 4 with music by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi and Henry Purcell. Vocalists Kathryn Mueller, soprano, and Deborah Domanski, mezzo-soprano, will join the ensemble for the concert showpiece, Pergolesi’s 1736 masterpiece “Stabat Mater.”

Mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski will sing with the Santa Fe Pro Musica Ensemble.

Mezzo-soprano Deborah Domanski will sing with the Santa Fe Pro Musica Ensemble.

Soprano Kathryn Mueller will perform during Holy Week concerts.

Soprano Kathryn Mueller will perform during Holy Week concerts.

The Gothic Revival chapel with the helix staircase forms the ideal venue for the series, associate music director Carol Redman said.

“It’s a hugely ornate sacred space,” she said.

The series has always mixed the secular with the sacred to give organizers more programming freedom, she added.

On Thursday the ensemble will open with Pergolesi’s late Baroque Concerto for Flute and Two Violins.

“It’s a chamber music piece,” Redman said. “It’s just a lovely, light piece with dance-like movements.”

Two ensemble violinists, a violist, cellist and organist will play Purcell’s “Pavane and Chaconne,” a piece the English composer wrote in 1678.

The pavane is a slow processional dance common in 16th-century Renaissance Europe.

“It’s a professional dance for couples,” Redman said, “with hesitation walking like you see at weddings.”

The organist at Westminster Abbey, Purcell influenced composers of the English musical renaissance in the early 20th century, most notably Benjamin Britten.

Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” is his best-known sacred work. Bach used it as the basis for his cantata “Root out my sins, Highest One.” Its text is based on lyrical Latin verses dating to the 13th century, Redman said. The composer divided it into 12 sections no more than five minutes long.

“The text describes the sorrows of the Virgin Mary,” Redman explained. “This piece is very, very famous. Its setting is almost operatic.”

Orchestral soloist Mueller boasts “a lovely, radiant and clear soprano,” Redman said. “Deborah (Domanski) has a rich, chocolate mezzo. They’re just beautiful singers. They can adapt their voices beautifully to this piece.”

Domanski has sung with both the Santa Fe Opera and the Metropolitan Opera. The Grammy Award-nominated Mueller has sung at Carnegie Hall.

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