"Masterworks of the Jewish Choral Tradition" set for Nov. 11

More than 200 musicians are set to take the stage at Nicholas Music Center as the Rutgers University Glee Club and Kirkpatrick Choir perform an ambitious program of Jewish choral works with the Kol Emet Choir of Anshe Emeth of New Brunswick and Makhelat Hamercaz, the Jewish Choir of Central New Jersey. Masterworks of the Jewish Choral Tradition is set for 4 p.m. Sunday, November 11, 2012.

The program evokes a variety of musical moods, as it highlights liturgical works (Salamone Rossi’s Barucha), politically charged pieces (Kurt Weill’s searing Das Berliner Requiem, with text by Bertolt Brecht) and joyous, flamenco-inspired music (Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco’s Romancero Gitano with guest artist Christopher Kenniff on classical guitar), all by Jewish composers.

Patrick Gardner, Director of Choral Activities at the Mason Gross School, says he believes his students must explore a variety of musical traditions as they strive to both entertain and inform audiences.

“We challenge them to do major works. This is not just about pretty sounds, although we have plenty of pretty sounds, but about a presentation of the text and its underlying meaning,” Gardner says. “To me, that it what music is all about.”

The concert launches with Kurt Weill’s powerful Das Berliner Requiem, a bleak depiction of life in 1920s Germany during Adolph Hitler’s rise to power. At several points during the requiem, Weill’s buoyant music undercuts Brecht’s harrowing text. Gardner says he included the piece because Das Berliner Requiem insists on music’s intimate relationship with history.

“Audiences are enthralled by the end of the piece—sometimes in tears,” he says. “Das Berliner Requiem makes you want to turn away from it and say, ‘Man must be better than this.’ ”

Masterworks of the Jewish Choral Tradition takes place 4 p.m. Sunday, November 11, 2012, at Nicholas Music Center, in the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center at 85 George Street (at Ryders Lane), New Brunswick, N.J. Tickets are $15 for the general public, Rutgers employees and alumni as well as senior citizens, $5 for students with valid I.D. For more information about any Mason Gross event, visit www.masongross.rutgers.edu, or call the Mason Gross Performing Arts Center ticket office at 732-932-7511.

Media inquiries: Laurie Granieri, 848-932-5239