Oratorio Chorale

Brahms: Ein deutsches Requiem

The closing concert of the Oratorio Chorale’s 40th anniversary season, and of Director Emily Isaacson’s debut season, will be Johannes Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem, with four-hand piano accompaniment in Brahms’s own arrangement.

Concert weekend is Saturday, June 7, at 7:30 p.m. at Studzinski Recital Hall, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, and Sunday, June 8, at 3:00 p.m. at Woodfords Congregational Church, Portland.

Ein deutsches Requiem, also known as “A German Requiem,” considered the central work of Brahms’s career, was based on texts from the Lutheran Bible and the Apocryphal King James Bible. The work developed from a choral piece to a cantata, and finally into the seven-movement Requiem for chorus, soloists and orchestra. Brahms’s four-hand piano duet score was based on a piano score he arranged for the piece at the time he composed it, but was first performed with all seven movements in 1871 at the London home of Sir Henry Thompson.

The Requiem established Brahms as a composer of major stature, and connected two of the most important spheres of his musical efforts – the vocal and the symphonic.

Brahms’s four-hand accompaniment will be performed by Grammy-nominated pianist Justin Blackwell and Chorale accompanist Derek Herzer.

Justin Blackwell is associate director of music at Marsh Chapel, Boston University, and is principal organist for the chapel’s Sunday morning service. A busy freelance keyboardist in the Boston area, Blackwell also serves as associate conductor of the Back Bay Chorale, is a member of the Handel and Haydn Society Orchestra, and has served as assistant conductor of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Chorus. As a pianist he can be heard on Seraphic Fire’s (Miami, FL) CD of the Brahms Requiem, which was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Choral Performance.

Derek Herzer is a graduate of the music program at the University of Southern Maine, where he has studied with Laura Kargul. He is much in demand as a solo pianist and accompanist and collaborates with soloists and ensembles.

Soloists for this concert are soprano Margot Rood and baritone Bradford Gleim. Rood’s experience includes a wide range of repertoire, from “Johanna” in Sweeney Todd with the St. Petersburg Opera, to solo parts in Purcell’s The Indian Queen with Handel and Haydn Society, and Handel’s Israel in Egypt, among many others. She made her Carnegie Hall debut in the world premiere of Shawn Jaeger’s “Letters Made with Gold,” under the direction of Dawn Upshaw.

Boston-based baritone Bradford Gleim performs opera, oratorio, song and choral music throughout the United States and abroad. Gleim has performed with such ensembles as The Bermuda Festival, Boston Festival Opera Boston and the Mark Morris Dance Group. In addition to his work with some of the finest choral ensembles in the United States, he is a founding member of the Renaissance choir Cut Circle and sings with the newly formed Yale Choral Artists. When not singing, Gleim devotes his time to teaching, including as a Choral Artist for the Metropolitan Opera Guild. He is currently assistant professor of voice at Berkley College of Music.