By Chloe Walker
The Oxford Civic Chorus will perform its final concert of the spring, “From Darkness Into Light: A Prayer for Ukraine,” on Sunday, May 1, at 3 p.m., at Nutt Auditorium.
Tickets for the concert are free.
“When we planned this concert many weeks ago, we did not know, of course, of the impending tragedies looming in Ukraine,” said OCC President Greg Mitchell. “After the war broke out, however, we were moved to dedicate these emotional works to the people of Ukraine. I feel our audience will be inspired by this beautiful music.”
The program features two major choral works and a musical adaptation of a Ukrainian prayer, which will be accompanied by organ, cello, harp, oboe, flute and percussion.
Co-directors Debra Atkinson and Creighton Holder will divide up directing the concert and organ accompaniment. Atkinson will direct Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna.” Holder will direct John Rutter’s “Requiem” and “A Ukrainian Prayer.”
Rutter’s 1985 “Requiem” was composed in memory of his father. It is based on the Latin requiem Mass, with other texts from psalms and the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. The piece is sung in both Latin and English, with each movement becoming more hopeful as it moves towards the “lux aeterna” or eternal light.
“Rutter composed this work with an eye toward hope, rather than grief,” said Holder.
“Lux Aeterna” was written by Lauridsen in 1967 after the death of his mother.
Atkinson said, “The combination of Lauridsen’s lush music with the ancient sacred texts offers a soothing balm to those who are suffering through the pains of our mortality.”
The final piece of the concert, “A Ukrainian Prayer,” is a plea for protection and sung in Ukrainian. Rutter offered a spiritual communion with the Ukrainian people through this piece: “Good Lord, protect Ukraine. Give her strength, courage, faith, hope. Amen.”
The Oxford Civic Chorus is a 501(c)(3) organization that relies on member dues, donations and ticket sales to fund its concerts and community works. This year, the board of directors decided to make its concerts free.
Donations at the door are used to offset expenses, and a portion of the donations from Sunday’s concert will directly benefit Ukraine relief efforts.
Major funding for this concert is provided by Isom House and Invitation Magazine. This performance is also funded in part by a grant from the Mississippi Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.
To make a donation directly, visit oxfordcivicchorus.org. For more information, contact Mitchell, 601-573-5351, firstname.lastname@example.org.