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Composers Series 2015 at Lobero

SBCS Composers 2015 Postcard ImageThis concert explores works evoking faith, praise, and deliverance, as seen through the eyes of three composers: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ola Gjeilo, and Rollo Dilworth. The journey begins with Mozart’s great masterwork Vesperae Solennes de Confessore K 339, written in Salzburg in 1780. The original manuscript was destroyed in World War II, but didn’t shed light on who the unnamed ‘confessore’ of the title refers to. Confessors were martyred saints, usually male, imprisoned or tortured for confessing their faith. This work, commissioned most likely by Archbishop Colloredo, was clearly intended to celebrate an important saint’s day, though which saint remains unsettled by most accounts. Music scholar, J Frank Henderson, after exhaustive research, believes it to have been St. Rupert or possibly St. Virgil, who were both confessor bishops and the most important patron saints in Salzburg at the time. The basic structure of the vespers is traditionally five Psalms plus a closing Magnificat, and can be sung in Gregorian chant, with organ and choir, or as in this instance set for chorus, four soloists, and small orchestra.

The confession theme continues, with Norwegian composer Ola Gjeilo’s Dark Night of the Soul, set in 2010 to text of the same name, written by the 16th Century mystic and confessor, St. John of the Cross, during his solitary imprisonment. After nine months of torture, kept in a tiny windowless hole, St. John escaped his captivity. Gjeilo’s music perfectly captures the first breath of freedom, the amazement at being alone in the dark night and free, the sheer grace of deliverance.

And finally, we move forward to Dr. Dilworth’s collection of choral settings of traditional African-American gospel and spiritual music of the 19th Century American South and his original compositions set to the texts of poets Langston Hughes and Paul Laurence Dunbar, including the West Coast Premier of a new work commissioned by Santa Barbara Choral Society, in collaboration with Chorus America, called Shine the Heavenly Light. The joyous music expresses the faith of an enslaved people of certain deliverance to a promised land where they would be free. Just as in the writings of St. John, the exultant and celebratory tone of the gospel and spiritual songs transcends the current circumstance of the people and calls them to look with faith toward the light.

Saturday March 28 at 8 pm; Sunday March 29 at 3 pm at the Lobero, 33 E. Canon Perdido

TICKETS: adults, $24, $34, $44, and $14 for students with ID or children with adults available online at the Lobero box office, by calling 805-963-0761