On April 11, Tudor Voices, a vocal ensemble that focuses on music from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque periods, will release a CD titled “In a Vale of Tears.” The CD includes two large works, “Sabat Mater” by Domenico Scarlatti and “Musikaliche Exequien” by Heinrich Schütz.
“We spent an entire year working on this program,” conductor Daniel Carberg said. These pieces, both depictions of life and death, are heart-wrenching and emotional. “I think they’re both very monumental, and they’ve had a strong musical place in my life for many years,” Carberg said.
The first piece, “Sabat Mater,” is an Italian piece meaning “mother Mary weeping at the cross.” “It’s her depiction of her son dying. It’s very emotional whether you’re religious or not. The music is just very raw,” Carberg said. Dan Shaw ’12 and Amanda Saul ’13 were both soloists on this track. The different elements of the piece, made up of 10 separate vocal parts, represent pain, fury and the unimaginable whirlwind of emotions Mary experienced while watching Jesus die on the cross. Thus, it requires a strong set of mature, self-reliant singers, which Carberg is confident he found in this group.
“Musikaliche Exequien” is a German piece and very different in nature from the Italian. “The composer wrote it for a friend of his who knew he was dying,” Carberg explained. So Schütz wrote a mass in three parts for him. Each part tells a different part of the story. Texts from the Kyrie and Gloria of a mass make up the first part, while the second part is written for double choirs, so contains very antiphonal elements.
The third section is particularly moving. Written for the full choir and three soloists, it depicts two angels taking Schütz’s friend up to heaven. Kari Riggenberg ’12, Alison DeLuca and Dr. Matthew Leese were soloists on this piece. Carberg would like to especially thank Dr. Leese for helping to prepare the piece.
With such powerful music, it’s difficult not to be affected emotionally by it. “I don’t think you can sing that music the way they sang it without a strong connection,” Carberg said. “And I know in the ensemble, there’s a real mix between Christians and Jews and agnostics, and I love that. So some people connected to it on a real sacred level, some on a real spiritual level, and some people were just moved by the story or how the music is set. It’s hard not to connect to it on some level.”
In preparation for the release of “In a Vale of Tears,” the choir performed a concert in April 2 in Champaign, Ill., and, on April 11, had a radio segment on WILL’s “Live and Local.” In addition to an interview, the station played excerpts of the CD and five of the students performed live.
“First Step Records and I have a lot of plans for getting the album out there and getting reviews. It’s very high quality, and I’m really proud of the recording,” Carberg said. “There are moments on there that rival some of the professional recordings that I’ve heard, which is amazing considering that this in an undergrad choir.”
With the help of First Step Records, Professor Matt Talbott and Nick Ertsgaard ’11, Tudor Voices was able to record a beautiful and heartbreaking CD at St. James Catholic Church in Decatur and release top-notch, powerful music to the campus and the community.