Jan. 15-21, 2004
By Kristen Fox / SUN Staff Writer
Students from Phoenix High School to perform Faure’s Requiem at St. Stephen’s Church
Phoenix –– On Sunday, Jan. 18 at 4 p.m. St. Stephen’s Church will host the Phoenix Firebird High School Concert Chorus and Chamber Singers. They will present Faure’s Requiem by Gabriel Faure and arranged by John Rutter. This is a unique opportunity for the community to hear the talents of 68 students, under the direction of Brian Logee, choral director at Phoenix High School, and accompanist, June Dillon. The Concert Chorus and Chamber Singers, composed of students in grades nine through 12, have been rehearsing the piece since September. Though Faure’s Requiem is an enjoyable piece to listen to, according to Logee, it is to difficult learn.
“It is a major choral work. Not many high schools attempt it,” said Logee. The students will sing the piece in Latin and recite it from memory. “It was a challenge,” said sophomore Alan Rudy, a member of the Chamber Singers. “Not only did some kids have to learn a new language, but they also had to memorize the piece.” The final product is well worth the effort. The Requiem is perhaps one of Faure’s best-known choral works. A requiem is a funeral Mass. Written in 1887, Faure’s Requiem echoes Faure’s personal experience of grief and his hope of heaven. However, it is not a disheartening piece. Faure’s belief in happiness beyond death is expressed in the composition. Faure said in 1902, “That’s how I see death; as a joyful deliverance, an aspiration towards a happiness beyond the grave, rather than as a painful experience.”
“Faure’s Requiem is kind of a mix between mourning and rejoicing,” Rudy observed. “It is not entirely sad or happy.” The piece centers around the Pie Jesu soprano solo, sung by Lauren Caswell, who will also play Sanctus on the organ. Rudy will sing the Offertory. Tim Casler will sing Libera Me. The three students are parishioners at St. Stephen’s Church. Logee called Faure’s Requiem “a sacred concert.” The students have performed the piece at Phoenix High School, but Logee said that performing it in a church will give the youths a “real feel for the meaning of the piece.” “The Requiem is meant to be performed in a sacred environment. The students should feel good about themselves. Not many students get the opportunity to perform in this kind of professional environment,” Logee said. He added that while none of the students are mandated to perform at St. Stephen’s Church, because it is a private venue, he got an overwhelming response from the classes. “They are all very excited,” Logee said.
Rudy is looking forward to the performance at the church. He hopes for a strong turnout. “I think it will be great for people to experience the piece at a church,” he said. “Everyone should come.” In May, the Concert Chorus and Chamber Singers will compete in the Classic Festival in Boston, Mass. While there, they plan to visit historical landmarks, perform at one of the downtown cathedrals and compete with other schools across the country. Logee said that it will cost each student approximately $400 to make the trip. Rudy said that he and his classmates have been raising money through several fundraisers, including bake sales and a performance at their school. “We have been working very hard to go to Boston,” Rudy said. Logee hopes that their performances and sales will help to alleviate the cost. A free-will offering will be taken up during their performance at St. Stephen’s Church.
Laurie Mogilewski, religious education director at St. Stephen’s Church, helped to coordinate the performance. She encourages the community to come out and listen to a beautiful piece of music. “It is a way to spend an enjoyable afternoon listening to a magnificent presentation while supporting our gifted high school students,” she said.