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San Francisco Lyric Chorus

Robert Gurney, Music Director

The Transcendental Choral Music of
Verdi - Gjeilo - Whitaker - Ésénvalds

Concert Program

Giuseppe Verdi: Four Sacred Pieces: Ave Maria, Stabat Mater
Laudi alla Vergine Maria,Te Deum

Eric Whitacre:Sainte-Chapelle, Glow, Lux Nova
Ola Gjeilo:Northern Lights, The Ground
Erik Esenvalds: Stars

David Hatt, Piano & Organ

Saturday, August 12, 2017 at 7 pm
Sunday, August 13, 2017 at 5 pm

Mission Dolores Basilica
16th & Dolores Streets
San Francisco
[free parking in schoolyard - enter off Church St.]

Tickets: $18 Seniors
$20 General
Free: Students (under 18 or with Student ID)
Please, no children under 5
For further information: (415) 721-4077 or


This Summer 2017, we invite you to join us as we share a Summer of Light , a summer of peace, love and harmony expressed through the transcendental music of the incomparable Giuseppe Verdi, as well as contemporary composers Eric Whitacre, Ola Gjeilo, and Eriks Esenvalds.

Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) is one of the most beloved and masterful of the Romantic era composers, known especially for his stirring and dramatic operas, as well as his equally passionate Requiem.  His Four Sacred Pieces are less well known, but deeply moving and expressive, and very dear to his heart.  They were composed separately over a number of years, but published together in 1898. 

Verdi composed the Ave Maria for his own amusement, based on an enigmatic scale found in an article in an Italian music magazine.  In spite of his consideration of the Ave Maria merely as an exercise, the work has been performed.  It consists of four sensitive and lush settings of a cantus firmus, or melody line.

In the Stabat Mater, Verdi uses all of his operatic abilities to set musically the drama of Christ’s Crucifixion, mirroring the moods of the words with full chorus thundering anger at the Crucifixion. 

The Laudi alla Vergine Maria, is the only one of the sacred pieces set in Italian, rather than in Latin.  Verdi chose verses from the final canto of Dante’s Paradiso, a lovely paean to the Virgin Mary.  His gentle and melodic setting for unaccompanied treble voices emphasizes the tender, comforting and maternal qualities of the Queen of Heaven. 

The double chorus Te Deum, a hymn of praise published in 1895-1896, is an array of textures including the soft and lyrical, strident and powerful, unaccompanied and accompanied, vocal and instrumental, with great contrasts in mood and passion.

Eric Whitacre (1970- ) is one of the most popular contemporary American choral composers.  A chameleon, he composes in a variety of styles.  This summer, we have chosen three of his compositions that deal with light and with the celestial.  Sainte-Chapelle is a poem about a young girl entering a chapel and hearing the angels in the stained glass windows sing to her, as a celestial light comes through the windows and bathes her and the chapel in brilliant colors.  Glow is about the falling snow and beautiful light of winter.  Lux Nova refers to winter and to the golden light when angels sing to the newborn babe.

Norwegian composer and pianist, Ola Gjeilo (1978- ) creates music mystical and contemplative.  His Northern Lights expresses the beauty and mystery of the aurora borealis.  His lyrical composition The Ground (from his Sunrise Mass) is a perfect example of his sense of harmony and melody.

Latvian composer Eriks Esenvalds’ (1977- ) compositions shimmer!  His choral work, Stars,is an ethereal setting of a Sara Teasdale text about looking up at the night sky and seeing a heaven full of stars.



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2006 San Francisco Lyric Chorus