Eurochorus : 2022 project
“Music for Peace”
Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
August 22-28, 2022
Musical and artistic direction Heinrich Benteman,
Choirmaster of “Troubadours d’Aix“, CFA choral of Aachen
The programme of the Eurochorus 2022 International Choral Meeting in Aachen features works that invoke peace from the classical repertoire from the Renaissance to the contemporary. A musical tasting of the pieces chosen for this workshop is offered in the detailed programme below.
This course, designed as a choral improvement course, is intended for adult choristers of a good level, who are passionate about choral singing, have significant experience and belong to a choir.
Excellent preparation of the scores before the course is required.
Videos to help you learn each piece will be made available from April onwards, as they are created, to facilitate the reading of the scores, the learning of the texts and to encourage individual preparation (see Scores and Learning page). All the learning files will be available in June at the latest.
During the course, the works will be worked on in section and tutti, in German and French language, with indications in English, with daily exercises in voice and vocal technique, choral coaching in section and individual vocal advice by the singing teachers.
The final choice of pieces to be performed in public at the end-of-course concerts will depend on the quality of our ensemble, and therefore on the degree of preparation of each chorister.
- Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy (1809-1847) : Verleih uns Frieden
This cantata by Mendelssohn has often been heard in the concerts of our Franco-German choirs, most recently in the “Grand concert pour la paix franco-allemande” on 11 November 2018 in Aurillac. It comes from the first stanza of the German adaptation of the Gregorian antiphon Da pacem, Domine, in diebus nostris by Martin Luther. The text, in Latin and German, thus serves as a link between our compositions for peace. (With piano.)
A good recording with piano (although the piano is a bit loud): Stuttgarter Hymnus-Chorknaben/ Rainer Homburg link here
- Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) : Ach, arme Welt
In 1888 Brahms composed his last work of choral music, the Three Motets op. 110. Ach, arme Welt is number 2. The third stanza implores God with the words: “Give us, Lord, peace. (A-cappella)
A recommendable recording (although the choir remains anonymous): tempo, interpretation, pronunciation : link here
- Max Reger (1873-1916) : Dein, o Herr, ist die Kraft
Bernard Lallement, the founder of our Franco-German choir movement, has already included this short composition by Max Reger, which he originally intended for an American church, in his Cantata for Peace. The prayer for peace forms the refrain of this short piece of music. (A-cappella)
No recommended recording
- Peteris Vasks (*1946) : The fruit of silence
The music of Lithuanian composer Peteris Vasks conveys messages and calls for resistance against the inhumane practices prevalent on our earth. In The fruit of Silence (2014), he set to music the conception of a faith-based charity in the service of peace as Mother Teresa of Calcutta expressed it in five poetically condensed phrases. (With piano)
An excellent recording, especially the conduct of the voices: Voces8 / Huw Watkins: link here
- Josquin Desprez (1450/55-1521) : Agnus Dei III from “Missa da pacem“
In his time, the First Renaissance, Picardy-born Josquin Desprez was considered the best composer; Martin Luther commented on his mastery of the art of composition: “Other composers were forced to write music as the notes dictated. In his case, the notes had to do as he commanded. “All his works are distinguished by their beauty and balance of form, and at the same time by their mathematical-intellectual conception. This is particularly true of his compositions for the Ordinarium missae, the fixed liturgical parts of the mass. (A-cappella)
Recommended recording: tempo, sound: Lumina Vocal Ensemble / Anna Pope: link here
- Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) : Trois beaux oiseaux du paradis
It was during the first winter of the war, in 1914, that Maurice Ravel set to music a text written about the fear of his compatriots in wartime, for soloists and four-part choir: a young girl watches three birds of paradise go by, one blue, one white and one red. These are the colours of the tricolour which reminds her that her boyfriend has gone to war for France. (A-cappella)
Excellent recording, especially the voice leading: The Cambridge Singers / John Rutter : link here
- Enjott Schneider (*1950) : Dona nobis pacem
Enjott Schneider, a German composer and long-time president of the German SACEM (GEMA), musically contrasts the Latin prayer Da pacem Domine, as in Arvo Pärt, with the Lutheran song Verleih uns Frieden, as in Mendelssohn. The result is a composition whose interpretation is an exciting challenge, with passages in free meter contrasting with other passages that require strong acceleration. An unusual way of singing awaits the choristers. (A-cappella)
- Philippe Rombi(*1968) : The Hymn of the Fraternised
The Hymn of the Fraternised (I’m dreaming of home) is part of the soundtrack, composed by Philippe Rombi, of the film Joyeux Noӫl. The film is about an episode of truce during the Great War between French, German and English soldiers at Christmas 1914. (With piano)
Natalie Dessay/Chorale Scala/London Symphony Orchestra/Philippe Rombi: link here
- Bernard Lallement (*1936) : Hymne of Hope
As an encore we will repeat and sing the Hymn of Hope on a text by Romain Rolland, taken from the Cantata for Peace by the founder of our Franco-German choir movement Bernard Lallement. (With piano)
A recording by the Franco-German Choir of Paris, conducted by Bernard Lallement: link here
- Arvo Pärt (+1935): Da pacem Domine
Composed for an international peace music festival in Barcelona and since then regularly sung in Spain in memory of the victims of the Madrid bombing in 2004, Arvo Pärt chooses in his work only a very limited number of sounds, the same rhythm, but deferred for all voices, and a very slow tempo. This produces the impression of a static, even hypnotic prayer. (A-cappella)
Recommended recording with score on screen): Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Paul Hillier link here
- Urmas Sisask (*1960): Agnus Dei
Using polyphonic compositional techniques as simple as they are refined, Urmas Sisask, one of Estonia’s best-known and most widely sung composers, has conceived his Agnus Dei, which traditionally ends with Dona nobis pacem, as a prayer for peace with great vigour. (A-cappella)
Recommended recording: tempo, sound: The Chamber Choir Eesti Projekt/Anne-Liis Treimann: link here
- Louis Théodor Gouvy (1819-1898): Hymne à la paix
Born in Hombourg-Haut in Lorraine, Gouvy was both a French citizen until 1871 and a Prussian citizen after the annexation of the Moselle following the Franco-German war of 1870/71. The fact that he belonged to two cultures is also reflected in his works, which have features of French-German musical style. The Hymn for Peace is a text by the great playwright Jean Racine, which he wrote on the occasion of the Peace of Rijswijk in 1697, the peace treaty ending the war of succession in the Palatinate. (A-cappella)
No recommendable recordings.
- Charles Gounod (1818-1893), Da pacem Domine ( women’s choir)
Charles Gounod’s sacred music is immense: it includes oratorios, 15 masses, a Stabat Mater, a Requiem and 60 rather short compositions for various vocal ensembles, sometimes accompanied by the organ or piano, these are the “Sacred Songs”, published as a collection in 1878. The Da pacem Domine for three women’s voices is part of this collection. Gounod does not quote the Gregorian chant of the same name, as will be the case for Arvo Pärt or Enjott Schneider in our musical programme. He invents his own melody and harmonises it according to the musical taste typical of post-Romanticism. (A-cappella or with piano)
The best existing recording, although not always vocally balanced: Minerva Voices chamber choir at the University of Kent / Dan Harding: link here
- Frank Martin (1890-1974): Notre Père (from the Oratorio “In terra pax“)
The Swiss composer Frank Martin composed his oratorio on biblical texts “In terra pax” for Armistice Day after the Second World War and it was first played on Radio Geneva in French on 7 May 1945. The texts and music range from the terrors of war, fear and despair to the exaltation of newfound peace and hope and renewal. The composer did not want to refer only to the Second World War, but to all wars and armed conflicts and to use his music as an exhortation against them. The third part of the oratorio ends with excerpts from the Sermon on the Mount: a musical setting of the Beatitudes and the Our Father. (according to a concert announcement by the Mitteldeutscher Rundfunk in Leipzig). (With piano)
German version: Bozner Domchor & Kammerchor Leonhard Lechner / Heinrich Walder: link here
French version: Bavarian Radio Choir and Orchestra / Ulf Schirmer:link here