Sealed Angel/ Chichester Psalms
The Sealed Angel
Shchedrin composed The Sealed Angel in 1988 to commemorate the millennium of Russia's conversion to Christianity. On the verge of Perestroikathe- political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union- The Sealed Angel captures one of the most intense moments in modern history. Fearful of punishment by the Communist regime, Shchedrin hid this major religious work by using the same title as the well-known story by celebrated novelist Nicolai Leskov, which was popular with the Communist regime.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's Chichester Psalms. Bernstein's most popular compositions are his Broadway shows, most notably West Side Story, famous for their energetic dance numbers. Chichester Psalms is the American composer's attempt at fusing the energy of jazz and Broadway into Jewish music. Each movement has its own dance rhythm and harmony, some of which even borrows music from West Side Story.
Bernstein specifically called for the text to be sung in Hebrew- going so far as to leave out an English translation in the score- using the melodic and rhythmic contours of the Hebrew language to dictate mood and melodic character. By combining the Hebrew with Christian choral tradition, Bernstein was implicitly issuing a plea for peace in Israel during a turbulent time in the young country's history.
First United Methodist Church (Portland, Oregon)
1838 SW Jefferson Street
Portland, OR 97201
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