Fox Valley Chamber Singers and Chorus Join Orchestra to Commemorate Pandemic – Chicago Tribune
While live music of all genres has been suspended during the pandemic, choral groups have been particularly hard hit due to fears of the virus spreading. As the Fox Valley Orchestra wraps up its 2021-2022 season, it offers a performance titled “Remember” to reflect on the past two years with the help of the Fox Valley Orchestra Chorus.
“In the face of everything we’ve been through, it seems necessary to recognize the hardships we’ve been through and try to bring people comfort,” said Lisa Fredenburgh, Fox Valley Orchestra’s choir director.
The performance, which takes place on May 1 at the Abbey of Marmion, highlights two works that offer a different perspective on this reflection.
The first is a “Requiem” by French composer Maurice Duruflé, who published the piece in 1947. It is written for solo voice, mixed choir, organ and orchestra, with themes from the “Messe pour les Morts” Gregorian.
“I’ve wanted to do this piece for a long time, probably, ever since I’ve known it,” Fredenburgh said. “It’s sublimely beautiful and comforting.”
Unlike many traditional Catholic requiems, Duruflé’s tends to downplay the dies irea, or judgment day. Instead of fire and brimstone themed moves, it offers a message of hope and charitable humanity, Fredenbugh said.
“It’s a good way to honor those we’ve lost, but also to look to the future,” she said.
The second piece is Mozart’s popular Eine kleine Nachtmusik, a 1787 composition for a chamber ensemble. “We balance Requiem with a bit of fun,” Fredenburgh said.
The Fox Valley Orchestra Chorus will be joined by about 10 students from Aurora University, where Fredenburgh is a professor, and the new Fox Valley Chamber Singers, which Fredenburgh helped create this year.
“These singers come from all over the region,” she said. “We had our inaugural concert in March, and now that we’ve formed, we’re really excited to move forward with our vision.”
Soloists on the show include mezzo-soprano Eunice Ayodele, baritone Aaron Wardell and David Jonies on organ.
“There’s always a need for big ensembles, for people to make music at a high level,” Fredenburgh said. “It’s been a dream of ours for a long time and we’re thrilled to make it happen.”
The performance also gives the choir and orchestra the opportunity to perform at Marmion Abbey.
“The Abbey Brethren are just wonderful and supportive,” Fredenburgh said. “They are so supportive of the music in this space. The visual setting is beautiful and the acoustics are magnificent. It’s a nice place where we can play.
While it’s exciting to perform again, Fredenburgh also emphasizes that the concert is a tribute to those we’ve lost over the past two years.
“Everyone has lost some,” she said. “In the choir, one of the great members of our bass section, Ed Arnold, passed away due to COVID. It touches us deeply.
Fox Valley Orchestra “Remember”
When: 2 p.m. on May 1
Or: Marmion Abbey, 850 Butterfield Road, Aurora
Tickets: $16 to $24
Information: 630-891-2526; foxvalleyorchestra.org
Jeff Banowetz is a freelance journalist for the Beacon-News.