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Nov 2011

Poulenc’s Gloria

I want the religious spirit to be expressed clearly, out in the open, with the same realism that we see in romanesque columns. – Frances Poulenc

Qui sedes ad dexteram patris (Thou who sittest at the right hand of the father,)
Miserere nobis,
 (have mercy upon us,)
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, (for thou alone art holy,)
tu solus Dominus, Amen. (thou alone art Lord, Amen.)
Qui sedes tu solus altissimus, (thou who sittest alone on high,)
Jesu Christe, (Jesus Christ,)

Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria (with the Holy Spirit, in the glory of)
Dei patris. (God the Father.)

Amen. (Amen.)
– VI. Qui sedes ad dexteram patris: Maestoso from Gloria by Frances Poulenc

French composers have never been shy about writing music whose main purpose was to give pleasure. It was French composers who began openly bashing the absurdity and complexity of late romantic music with the musical jests of Satie, and in many works by the group that claimed him as their inspiration, the “Group of Six,” which included Francis Poulenc. During the first half of his career, Poulenc’s work was so much in the lighter vein that he could be taken as a true follower of Satie. That changed, however, in 1935 when, following the death of a close friend in an automobile accident, Poulenc recommitted himself to God and began composing works of an unprecedented seriousness, though without ever losing some of his lighter style as well. As a composer with special gifts in setting words to music, Poulenc had already composed a great deal of choral music, in French and Latin, before turning to the Gloria. The text of the Gloria is regarded as one of the great hymns of the Christian faith, and perfectly captures the faith of this gifted composer.

Join us this Saturday, November 12, as Redemption hill takes a trip to the Richmond Symphony to hear Poulenc’s choral tour de force. If you are looking for a date night out with your spouse, or significant other, this will be a great opportunity, as you will not only hear some great music performed by our local symphony, but will have the chance to hear more about Poulenc and his piece, and how it relates to the gospel. A limited number of tickets are available for this event, so please RSVP here if you intend to go.


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