I'm not sure if there is some deep inner meaning, but requiems are turning out to be the celebratory music of choice for organizations celebrating important milestones in Baltimore next season.
The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will bring out the big requiems by Brahms and Verdi as part of its centennial. And the Baltimore Choral Arts Society will sing three -- count 'em, three --requiems to mark its 50th year. Call me old-fashioned, but I'd expect at least one festive Te Deum in the mix.
No arguing with the greatness of all this music, though. And, like the BSO, Choral Arts has certainly picked superb examples of the genre.
The choir, led by Tom Hall, will open the silver anniversary season Nov. 1 at Kraushaar Auditorium with a double-header of French Requiems -- those by Faure and Durufle, who moved away from the gloom-doom style of many earlier settings of the Latin Mass for the Dead to create something more lyrical and comforting.
Mozart's unfinished Requiem will be the featured work during the season finale March 20 at Kraushaar. An impressive quartet of soloists will joining the chorus for this performance: soprano Janice Chandler-Eteme, mezzo-soprano Krista River, tenor John Wesley Wright, and bass-baritone Kevin Deas.
All will not be solemn at this concert. The program also offers Handel's uplifting Hallelujah Chorus (past chorus members will be invited to join the current roster of singers for this), and the world premiere of "Hallelu Yah!" by Baltimore composer James Lee III.
And this finale will include music written and conducted by Baltimore Choral Arts Society's founding music director, Theodore Morrison, the composer of the recent, intriguing opera "Oscar."
In between the two requiem-heavy programs will be the the annual Christmas with Choral Arts Dec. 1 at the Baltimore Basilica; as well as a Sing-Along "Messiah" Dec. 18 and Christmas for Kids Dec. 19, both at Kraushaar.
For more information, call 410-523-7070, ext. 301, or go to bcasings.org.