The Chatham Chorale's gift in recognition of the Tercentennial of Chatham, MA, is the commissioned work premiered in three performances at Chatham High School on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. The Chatham Chorale's music director Joseph Marchio presented the new work, titled North Beach Journal: A Chatham Rhapsody, along with Ralph Vaughan Williams' magnificent musical plea for peace, Dona Nobis Pacem, and Gustav Holst's beautiful instrumental piece, St. Paul's Suite.
The text of North Beach Journal: A Chatham Rhapsody, was written by Robert Finch who has lived on and written about Cape Cod for forty years. The essays of Finch's A Cape Cod Notebook, which was awarded the 2006 New England Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Radio Writing, have a loyal NPR listening audience. William Cutter, a member of the conducting faculty of The Boston Conservatory, composed the music. Cutter personally selected several sections of Finch's subjects which capture mystery and isolation, and which he felt lend themselves well to strong musical themes. Robert Finch will narrate passages prior to each musical movement. For more information about the creation of this work, please see Diana Landau's excellent article.
A second important work included in the program is Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem (Give us Peace) written in 1936 when tensions in Europe were on an acute incline. Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) intended his work as a plea to stave off war and incorporates text by American poet, essayist and journalist, the humanist Walt Whitman. Cape Cod's Beloved Soprano Joan Kirchner will sing the stirring plea for peace after which follow the violent, unsettling, though musically colorful passages, followed by a mood turned glorious before the soprano ends the work with a hopeful prayer for peace. For more on Dona Nobis Pacem, please see this additional background submitted by Charles Bihler.
The program opened with Gustav Holst's St. Paul's Suite. This is the first piece Holst (1874-1934) wrote for the orchestra of St. Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith, in dedication of a music wing, where he wrote most of his works and where he enjoyed many years in his post as music director.