A beautiful and deeply moving program of ancient and modern music whose texts had broad moral implications was presented by the Fort Worth Chorale on Sunday afternoon in University Christian Church.
The chorale’s old name was Schola Cantorum of Texas, but it has adopted a new, more location-specific title while retaining the former one as an appendage. Sunday’s program demonstrated that its old characteristics — precision of ensemble and beauty of tone — remain the same.
The title of Sunday’s program, “Cathedral Echoes: No Greater Love,” was a reference to the Crucifixion of Christ. But the composers of several pieces had other sacrifices in mind, as well.
The most jarring was J.A.C. Redford’s “Rest Now, My Sister,” whose text and music were written in memory of the composer’s murdered sister-in-law. This is a wrenching sonnet, whose effect is intensified by Redford’s striking music.
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Another contemporary piece was Frank Ferko’s setting of Pádraic Pearse’s poem “The Mother,” which was written shortly before Pearse and his brother were executed by the British for participating in the Irish uprising of 1916.
Mezzo Karla Martin was the moving soloist in the work, which was sung a cappella, as was much of Sunday’s music.
The program reached far back in time for “Victimae Paschali Laudes,” a Gregorian chant for Easter sung hauntingly by the men of the chorale. The women had a piece of their own, Philip W.J. Stopford’s contemporary “Stabat Mater.” There were even two female composers represented: Hildegard von Bingen’s medieval “Caritas Abundant” and Eliza Gilkyson’s contemporary “Requiem” — a striking composition.
More conventional masterpieces were not neglected. Perhaps the high point of the afternoon was the “Crucifixus” from Bach’s B Minor Mass, though Mozart’s “Ave Verum Corpus,” Bruckner’s “Christus Factus Est” and Fauré’s “In Paradisum” from his Requiem scored points.
Conducting most of the program was the chorale’s music director, Jerry McCoy, though Chris Hathaway conducted the Bruckner. Assisting briefly were pianist and organist Alan Buratto and a chamber orchestra.