Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 5, 2018

Community Chorus at S. Berwick Performs Major New Work

PRESS RELEASE:

Local Chorus in Mega Performance of New Requiem


It is early spring 2012, and Nicolás Dosman, a young choral conductor working on a doctorate in music education at Columbia University, is attending a fundraiser gala in New Jersey for the Continuo Arts Foundation. The organization runs community outreach music programs throughout the Greater New York City area and offers outstanding musicians opportunities to perform in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and abroad. It has awarded Dosman a conducting fellowship.

Halfway through the event, the lights dim for the showing of a documentary film. The film is not yet fully edited for public release, but Continuo Arts Founder/Director Candace Wicke, a celebrated choral conductor in the U.S. and Europe, feels the film is worth sharing even in rough form. It is about a project she and Hollywood composer Stephen Edwards had begun six years earlier – the writing of his Requiem for My Mother and the staging of its 2008 world premiere in Vatican City. Wicke had already conducted much of the requiem in 2006 in Carnegie Hall. For the world debut of the full work, she had overseen months of rehearsals with amateur choral groups in Wisconsin, Florida and New York, including 50 children, and brought the whole assemblage to Rome. The Continuo Arts Orchestra and City of Prague Philharmonic accompanied the chorus for that performance; Wicke conducted.

Dosman is deeply moved by the film. What he hears in it is so compelling he realizes this is music for 21st-century listeners, music that can potentially invigorate a new generation of concertgoers. When the lights go up and he looks around, everyone is wiping away tears. What would it be like, he wonders, to conduct that powerful work?

Now he is finding out.

On April 7, 7:30 pm, at Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine, Dosman, now artistic director of the Community Chorus at South Berwick and director of choral studies at the University of Southern Maine, will conduct Stephen Edwards' Requiem for My Mother.

The South Berwick-based chorus will combine with the USM Chamber Singers and University Chorale; Southern Maine Children's Chorus; Southern Maine Youth Chorale; choristers from Massabesic, Noble, Scarborough, and Yarmouth High Schools; and soloists Stephanie Gilbert, soprano; David Myers, tenor; and Joshua Miller, baritone – 250 singers in all - along with the 55-piece Southern Maine Symphony Orchestra. Wicke will give a short introduction. Performances by the winners of USM's concerto and aria competitions will precede the requiem.

On April 6, 7:30 pm, in a multi-media preview of that concert, the 75 voices of the Community Chorus at South Berwick will perform portions of the requiem with string ensemble accompaniment. Wicke will speak about her involvement with the work and present segments of the documentary, which aired last year on Mother's Day on PBS stations nationwide. (A recording of the Vatican City concert remained on the top of Billboard's classical chart for eight weeks.) She and Dosman will also field questions from the audience.

Edwards has been writing movie scores since 1992, with more than 60 to his credit, mostly for action and horror films. He also performs as a pianist on numerous TV soundtracks. However, as he says in the documentary, he considers the Requiem for My Mother his highest achievement.

His mother, Rosalie Edwards was an accomplished flutist, pianist, and choral director. She also taught music privately and in a public elementary school and was a tireless advocate for music education. Above all, she was her son's first music teacher and mentor whose passion for music shaped his life. She died in 2006, not long after a diagnosis of cancer.

Although this requiem takes the form of the traditional Catholic Mass for the dead and is sung in Latin (and Greek for the Kyrie), the expressions of anger, fear, hope, and acceptance conveyed by the music are completely accessible to anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one. Edwards' use of a children's chorus is unique to the requiem form and serves as a symbol of hope and innocence and the reminder that life goes on.

In his program notes to the Vatican City concert recording, Edwards says the requiem became his way "to give my mom back the gift of music that she so selflessly gave to me …." But she can no longer receive that gift. What he is really doing is passing it on to all those who hear this work.

Tickets for the North Berwick preview concert are $12 in advance and for seniors and students, $15 at the door. Tickets may be purchased at South Berwick Pharmacy, 289 Main St., South Berwick, ME; Gary's Guitars, 800 Islington St., Portsmouth, NH; Baldface Books, 476 Central Ave., Dover, NH.

Admission to the Merrill Auditorium concert is by donation (at no set amount) to the University of Southern Maine. This can be done online by clicking here and following the instructions to obtain a ticket via email. Tickets will also be available at Merrill Auditorium the day of the concert – again by unspecified donation.