St. Paul’s Choir of Salt Lake City Performs Dvořák’s Requiem

November 11, 2010

St. Paul's Episcopal Church - Salt Lake CityWhat is a Requiem? It was a term I’d heard  many times over the years but I never knew what one was. Earlier this year, I decided to find out.

I was familiar with the title Verdi’s Requiem, but I didn’t have any idea what it was; I hadn’t ever heard it, and I’d never read anything about it. As luck would have it, the Utah Symphony had Verdi’s Requiem on their 2010 program and it became a must-attend event for me!

I sat at Abravanel Hall, leafed through the program, and watched the stage fill with the Utah Symphony musicians and choir members.  I read the program notes, occasionally followed the verses, and listened to the glorious singing by the choir and soloists.  It was beautiful hearing 100 voices paired with the orchestra.  I sat and thought to myself, so THIS is a requiem!

This past weekend, the St. Paul’s Choir of  Salt Lake City’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Church performed Dvořák’s RequiemMusic Director Charles Black invited me to attend, and while I had just had a whirlwind 48 hours of orchestral events, I couldn’t say no! I was definitely on music overload, but supporting friends, especially friends in the Arts, is a priority for me.

A month prior, I had attended the annual Live for Life Cancer Benefit Concert at St. Paul’s, again invited by Charles Black and Peter Christie.  Not having been to St. Paul’s before, I had no idea what this event would be like and I was pleasantly surprised as I entered the small, quaint and cozy chapel area.  The pews were filled with event supporters and church members, and it was a night of inspiring music benefiting families currently facing devastating financial burdens due to illness.

Having enjoyed the Live for Life concert at St. Paul’s, I was looking forward to Dvořák’s Requiem. Before the concert, Peter Christie had talked to me about how meaningful this event was to him, as it was not just a concert but a requiem incorporated into an actual Mass.  I was at a church service where a requiem was intended to be heard.

The Mass included prayers and readings as well as a reading of names of the departed.  Tucked in between these was Dvořák’s Requiem.

St. Paul's Dvořák’s Requiem RehearsalThe Requiem was performed by approximately 20 musicians, 30 singers and 4 soloists.  I recognized musicians from the Utah Symphony and Ballet West’s Utah Chamber Orchestra, and as choir members filed past, I even recognized singers from the University of Utah Lyric Opera Ensemble. I loved seeing so many artists from all around Salt Lake City coming together for this musical performance at St. Paul’s!

Dvořák’s Requiem calls for four soloists – Soprano Dana Rene Killingsworth, Tenor Riley Kyle Soter, Alto (mezzo-soprano) Mary Ann Drescher, and Bass Charles Hamilton, and two of the soloists were particularly memorable for me.  I loved the rich and full-bodied sound from Mary Ann Drescher, and I fell completely in love with Riley Kyle Soter’s voice.

Watching and hearing Riley had me entranced and I had goose bumps. With each sound produced, I leaned forward more intently, wanting to hear more.  I envisioned him singing glorious tenor roles on stages worldwide, audiences holding their breath, feeling as I did in those brief moments.  His voice was moving, and after the Mass was over, many people were commenting on how much they loved his voice too!

Going to the church service and hearing Dvořák’s Requiem was quite special. The chapel was packed and everyone was in great spirits.  The choir and musicians performed beautifully, and I never would have expected such a warm concert experience in a venue as small as a church. After the concert, we all gathered to mingle and eat — not only was it a “Requiem Mass” to celebrate and honor the dead, it was a time to celebrate life.

Salt Lake City is a Mecca for experiencing the Arts, and opportunities for rich experiences like this abound.  I am often invited to performances at Universities and colleges, churches and halls, and private homes or other small venues, and there just isn’t enough time to attend them all.  Many of these events are free of charge, and those that aren’t are typically under $15.00.  If I hadn’t been invited by Charles Black and Peter Christie, I probably wouldn’t have gone on my own, but now that I have seen how enriching these smaller Arts events are, I’ll likely start attending more.

St Paul’s has musical performances throughout the year and if you’re looking for an intimate, professional and enriching experience, I’d encourage you to add events at St. Paul’s to your calendar. Perhaps I’ll even see you there!

Photo Credit: Charles Black

8 Responses to St. Paul’s Choir of Salt Lake City Performs Dvořák’s Requiem
  1. Betsy, Thank you so much for attending our requiem service and for writing this lovely review! Charles

  2. Betsy, Thank you for coming and hearing the requiem. I have been involved with ten or more such services and have found all of them to be inspiring and worth while. I hope more can come and enjoy the enriching experience with all of us!

  3. Heidi — I hope so too! It really was wonderful and I look forward to more! Thank you for the comment!

  4. Thank you so much Betsy! It was an honor to be a part of such a rich musical experience, and I’m so glad you were a part of it as well.

  5. I am so glad that you could attend. It has been a pleasure to work with all involved at St. Paul’s. Thank you for your kind comments and I hope you will attend another event. Riley’s voice is certainly exciting.

  6. Thanks so much for your lovely review and for taking the time to come and especially for sharing your experience. We have several Requiem’s in our repertoire so I hope you come again next year. Don’t know what Charles has in mind for us yet but it is sure to be a challenge!

  7. Thank you all for your comments. I can’t wait to see the next performance…whatever it may be!

  8. Betsy,
    Thanks for all your praise. Singing in a requiem is always exciting, and a challenge. The Dvorak has some exceptionally beautiful and thrilling parts. I’m happy to be part of St. Paul’s choir. Nancy


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