All the chamber singing fans in the house throw your hands in the air! The Chamber Singers of Iowa City are closing out a year of excellent concerts this Sunday at 3 p.m. with a performance of two Maurice Durufle pieces at the Congregational Church (30 N Clinton Street). Tickets are $17 for adults, $14 for seniors and $5 for students.
Maurice Durufle was a French composer and organist. His body of work is notable for it’s attention to complex and modern uses of harmony. Durufle was a perfectionist, and highly critical of his own work, publishing only a handful of works throughout his life and often editing pieces after publishing them. His belabored process resulted in a well-polished body of work that gets frequently performed to this day.
His most famous composition is his “Requiem op. 9,” which will be the centerpiece for Sunday’s performance. Written at the time of his father’s death, Durufle took extensive use of Gregorian chants, using the chants for almost all the thematic material. At this performance, each Gregorian chant will be sung before each movement to help contextualize the work as a whole. Durufle created three versions of the Requiem — one for large orchestras, one for small orchestras and a particularly intimate organ-only version, which will be the version the Chamber Singers will perform.
The Chamber Singers have programmed an amazing season of concerts, with an attention given to stark contrasts. Their first concert featured the “Fall” and “Winter” sections from Haydn’s “The Seasons,” while their second concert, entitled “Agony and Ecstasy,” featured works by Renaissance composer Tomás Luis de Victoria paired with a new work by the modern Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo. Durufle’s Requiem is a work of contrasts within itself, with a sense of timelessness and flares of modernity, and should serve as a perfect piece to end this season of singing.