Com­ing up in Philly music: The Chest­nut Street Singers explore music long kept secret

1 minute read
The Chestnut Street Singers express for others who could not. (Photo provided by artists.)
The Chestnut Street Singers express for others who could not. (Photo provided by artists.)

Most artists create with a public audience in mind. Some work is more private. It may fulfill the artist’s personal needs or it may be created under the restrictions imposed by a dictatorial government or repressive social attitudes. The Chestnut Street Singers will devote their next concert to work created Behind Closed Doors.

The main works on the program will be Philip Moore’s 2002 Three Prayers of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and excerpts from Prophetiae Sibyllarum by the Renaissance composer Orlande de Lassus. Moore's work is a musical setting of texts by the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was imprisoned and executed by the Nazis. Lassus’s work has been arranged so that its prophetic Christian texts comment on Bonhoeffer’s prayers.

The other composers on the program include a highly individualistic American, Charles Ives, and an Elizabethan, William Byrd, who became a secret Catholic when Catholicism was equated with sedition in England.

The Chestnut Street Singers are a unique choral group who operate without a professional conductor. They build their programs around strong themes with selections chosen by the singers themselves. In the last nine years, their edgy, musically sophisticated programs have acquired a following that includes some of the most knowledgeable concertgoers in the city.

The Chestnut Street Singers will present Behind Closed Doors on Friday, March 15, at 8pm at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill, 8855 Germantown Avenue, and Sunday, March 17, at 4pm at Saint Mark’s Church, 1625 Locust Street. Admission is free but you’re invited to make a donation that fits your budget.

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