Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Robert Moran's Trinity Requiem: Music for All Time

Robert Moran: Trinity Requiem
Trinity Youth Chorus and members of Trinity Choir, Trinity Wall Street; 
Robert Ridgell, conductor, et al

Sometimes occasional pieces are just that – music written for a specific event, but have no life beyond it. (Richard Wagner’s “American Centennial March,” for example) But then there are other works that speak to audiences not just gathered for the event, but those in other places and other times.

Robert Moran’s Trinity Requiem is just such a work. This quiet, ethereal piece was composed for the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Commissioned by Trinity Wall Street, which stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center, the composition is a serene, almost disembodied contemplation on the words of the requiem mass.

It bears some semblance to Arvo Part’s suspension-of-time music, but with a more identifiable tonal center. The quotation of Pachelbel’s Canon in the middle is a risky move – in the wrong hands it could sound trite – but Moran pulls it off. Somehow it adds to the otherworldly sorrow expresses by the music.

While written for a specific event, the Trinity Requiem transcends its origins. This is music that should be heard whenever people need solace from tragedy. The Trinity Youth Chorus, supported by adult members of the Trinity Choir sing with sure technique and firm conviction that help gives the requiem its emotional power.

Also included on the album are three shorter works in a similar style by Moran. Seven Sounds Unseen is an earlier a cappella work that uses the same vocal techniques as the requiem. Selections from it are performed by Musica Sacra, led by Richard Weterburg. Notturno in Weiss, performed by The Esoterica, directed by Eric Banke, adds a harp to the vocal mix, creating an interesting texture to this choral composition.

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