Moravec: Profoundly Rewarding

Paul Moravec’s Mass in D [is a] demanding piece [that is] profoundly rewarding.” Bach Festival Society (Winter Park, FL) music director Dr. John Sinclair shares some thoughts about Moravec’s music before the ensemble’s upcoming February 17 portrait concert. The program also features two additional choral works: I Will Fear No Evil and Songs of Love and War.

John Sinclair (left) and Paul Moravec (center) before the Bach Festival Society’s premiere of Music Awake! in April 2016.

Sinclair continues. “Paul’s interesting and relatively short Mass in D possesses a great deal of variety. Just like his other vocal works, it is well thought out, both compositionally and textually.” The three-movement, 10-minute piece for chorus and organ features Greek and English texts that highlight the “Kyrie,” “Gloria,” and “Sanctus” sections of the traditional Mass setting. Mass in D premiered in March 2017 and was sung by the Choirs of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Buffalo, NY. Choirmaster Jonathan Scarozza led the performance as part of the cathedral’s bicentennial celebration.  Moravec adds a personal note, “This [commission and] collaboration with the St. Paul’s Choir held a special meaning for me — I was its Head Chorister in the early 1970’s.”

Songs of Love and War, written in 1997, is a 21-minute piece scored for baritone soloist, SATB, trumpet and strings. Kent Tritle premiered it with the Dessoff Choirs. Moravec describes the work as “a four-movement cantata that features texts derived from letters to and from soldiers in four American wars. These texts appeal to me on the strength of their simple dignity, compassion, and eloquence.” The work highlights letters from four American wars. Moravec explains. “The four movements proceed in reverse chronological order: from the Vietnam War (son writing to mother) to World War II (wife to husband), followed by World War I (a Marine sending condolences to his dead comrade’s mother) to the Civil War (husband to wife). Along the way, the cantata charts an emotional and spiritual course of increasing intensity…Rather than projecting any particular attitude toward war, the cantata concerns expressions of love made by individuals living under extreme conditions. The texts convey admirable courage in the face of extraordinary suffering and uncertainty.”

More Moravec: Also happening on the 17th is Ensemble Pi’s performances of the composer’s chamber works Andy Warhol Sez and Grosse Fuge Fantasy at the Adelphi University Performing Arts Center. On March 21, Moravec is the guest speaker at Opera America’s “Creators in Concert” Series in New York City.