On Saturday 4th February 2023 the Sine Nomine Singers were joined by Soprano Joanna Weeks and Baritone Richard Moore for a performance of Ein Deutsches Requiem by Brahms. We were directed by Jonny Davies and accompanied by the Cosine Orchestra.
Brahms deliberately chose the title Ein Deutsches Requiem to distinguish the work from the standard Mass that is part of the liturgy in Roman Catholic churches. Rather than using the traditional Latin, the composer put together a text in his mother tongue, with words from Martin Luther’s German bible; and since its first performance in 1868, the resulting Requiem has been cherished by choirs and audiences alike for its richness of melody and orchestration, together with its moving sense of personal involvement.
It is generally assumed that Brahms composed his Requiem in response to the death of his beloved mother in 1865, but his mind had actually been running on composing a Requiem for some years, since the death of his dear friend, the composer Robert Schumann, in 1856. His Deutsches Requiem is a large-scale work for chorus and orchestra, with a soprano and baritone soloist; comprising seven movements, it is Brahms’s longest composition.
Ein Deutsches Requiem is a sacred but non-liturgical work. In contrast to the traditional Latin Mass for the dead, it omits the grimmer aspects of Christian dogma, such as the horrors of the Day of Judgement, or any plea for mercy on behalf of the dead souls, replacing these with a sympathetic humanism. From its beautiful opening chorus, a setting of the words “Blessed are they that mourn”, the work focuses on the living, and their need for comfort – the ultimate source of which is the Lord, an idea which persists throughout the work.
For this concert the choir will be joined by that fine body of local musicians, The Cosine Orchestra, who have regularly accompanied us in the past. The important soprano and baritone solo parts will be sung by talented young singers Joanna Weeks and Richard Moore, both of whom are currently making their mark in concert halls, festivals and opera companies across the country.
We will be conducted on the 4th February by our charismatic and brilliant young director Jonny Davies. This will be a particularly poignant occasion for us all, in that Jonny is leaving the choir, and relocating to Bristol with his young family; so this will be his last concert with us. Everyone in the choir is deeply grateful for his inspiring leadership, his infectious enthusiasm and musical insight over the past few years, and we wish him all the best in the future.
Jonny’s departure will be a great loss to the choir, and we are currently accepting applications for a replacement musical director. If you know of someone who may be a suitable candidate, please encourage them to get in touch with us. Our aim is for the Sine Nomine Singers to continue to deliver concerts of the high musical standards that our audiences have come to expect, and we hope to find that special person who will be a fitting replacement for Jonny.
Tickets for this concert will be available on the door, at £15, with concessionary tickets for £5. There is wheelchair access to the church. I look forward to seeing you at St Georgeʼs on the 4th February, for what I am sure will be a wonderful evening of music making.