Gorecki's Of Sorrowful Songs on Musica Sacra

Nov 3, 2016

There's some unusual programming on this Sunday's Musica Sacra, heard at 8:00 PM on Classical 101.

During performances of Twisted 2 at the Ohio Theater this past September, full houses loved the renewed collaboration between the Columbus symphony, Ballet Met and Opera Columbus.

The one selection that got the silence, that moment when audiences dare not breathe— a moment performers live for—was the beautifully played, sung, and choreographed selection from Henryk Gorecki's Symphony No. 2,  "Of  Sorrowful Songs."

You may remember this hour-long work, scored for large orchestra and soprano solo. It was introduced to a wide audience when a pop station played it, for some reason, and the phones went nuts.

Eventually, this hour-long, slow moving, quiet and deeply meditative symphony by a 20th century (living!) composer found itself a bona fide pop-chart buster.

Of Sorrowful Songs includes three sections for soprano, set to texts taken from the walls of an interrogation room in Nazi-controlled Warsaw. The words of those tortured:

"No mother, do not weep, Most chaste Queen of Heaven/Support me always/"

Also included are lamentations from the Polish Monastery of the Holy Cross, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

One need have no religious affiliation to come away from this work deeply moved, and even blissed-out. Presenting the Gorecki Symphony on Musica Sacra, a program dedicated to sacred choral music, is a departure, but I know those moved in the Ohio Theater will be greatly multiplied when this work airs.