Com­ing up in Philly music: [email protected]7 per­forms Chelsea Kom­schlies’s dra­mat­ic Nunc Dimit­tis’ adaptation

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Artistic director Matthew Glandorf conducting Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio.' (Photo courtesy of Choral Arts Philadelphia.)
Artistic director Matthew Glandorf conducting Bach's 'Christmas Oratorio.' (Photo courtesy of Choral Arts Philadelphia.)

Some of the best [email protected] programs have paired a Bach cantata with a modern work that treats a similar theme. The next [email protected] concert will present a striking example of this merging of the ages. The modern work on the program will be a world premiere commissioned by the Bach Festival of Philadelphia that uses the exact same text as the Bach cantata that will precede it. The text, furthermore, is one of the most famous passages in the New Testament, the Nunc Dimittis, the cry of the aging Simon thanking the Lord for letting His servant depart in peace.

Chelsea Komschlies is a young composer whose works have been performed all over the United States. In Philadelphia, she wrote the featured music for the finale of the One Book, One City festival. She wrote a short setting of the Nunc Dimittis while she was a postgraduate student at Curtis, and the director of the [email protected] series, Matthew Glandorf, liked it so much that he commissioned her to turn it into a longer work.

“I was quite taken with Chelsea's extremely dramatic approach to the text,” Glandorf says. “I realized that there are no longer works that really explore the text of the Nunc Dimittis (unlike the Magnificat) and asked her if she would be interested in taking her original work and expand it into a miniature ‘oratorio,’ which luckily really appealed to her.”

[email protected] presents one-hour Wednesday-night programs early in the evening, and follows most programs with a notably classy post-concert reception. The format favors close listening and the Wednesday-night scheduling creates an attractive midweek break. Glandorf is also director of the Bach Festival; he initiated the [email protected] series as a new direction for an organization that has gone through several phases since it was founded 30 years ago. It seemed like an odd idea when he started it several years ago, but it’s become one of the most popular classical-music series in the city.

[email protected] will present Bach’s cantata “Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace” and Chelsea Komschlies’s Nunc Dimittis on February 27, at 7pm at St. Clement’s Church (2013 Appletree Street). Admission is pay-what-you-wish ($25 suggested). For more information visit the Choral Arts website or call 267-240-2586.

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