Oswego Festival Chorus to play French Romantic masterworks

The Oswego Festival Chorus, under the direction of Julie Pretzat, will present two French Romantic choral masterpieces at 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church in Oswego.

The choir will perform Gabriel Faure’s “Requiem” and the “Christmas Oratorio” by Camille Saint-Saens, with a chamber orchestra that includes harp and organ. Featured soloists will include Julianna Sabol, Pam Giovanetti, Carolyn Weber, Todd Graber and Kent Bradshaw.

“Faure’s setting of the Requiem Mass, written in 1888, is gentle, warm and comforting,” said Pretzat, professor and chair of music at SUNY Oswego. “Absent is the sense of anguish and doom found in other settings of this text.”

The composer, Faure, has explained the piece this way: “It has been said that my ‘Requiem’ does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience.”

Camille Saint-Saens wrote the “Christmas Oratorio” (or “Oratorio de Noel”) in 1858 when he was just 23. “The Christmas Oratorio is full of warm romantic harmonies and graceful melodies that set a tender mood,” Pretzat said. The opening prelude, subtitled “In the style of Sebastian Bach,” sets the scene for the Christmas story: The pastoral quality creates images of the shepherds tending their flocks in the fields.

As the Christmas story continues, the vocal soloists represent various characters, including a narrator and the angel Gabriel. “The chorus represents a multitude of angels singing to the glory of the Lord,” Pretzat explained. “The final movement of the piece, which follows the model of old French Christmas songs, is a virtual hymn of praise of all creation in the presence of God.”

Tickets to this performance are available at the Tyler Hall box office, from members of the Festival Chorus or at the door. St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church is located at 50 E. Mohawk St. in Oswego.

Admission costs $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. SUNY Oswego students are admitted free with a college ID. For reservations, contact the Tyler Hall box office at 312-2141 or tickets@oswego.edu.

The SUNY Oswego music department and the Student Association sponsor this performance.

Persons with disabilities, seeking assistance to attend this event, should call 312-2141 in advance.

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(Posted: Oct 26, 2005)