Choral Concert – Die Erste Walpurgisnacht (Mendessohn)

The University of Wisconsin Choral Union and UW Chamber Orchestra will present a concert containing two works, Dona Nobis Pacem by the English composer of Welsh descent Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Die Erste Walpurgisnacht by German composer Felix Mendelssohn. The concert will be presented on Saturday November 23rd (7:30 pm) and Sunday November 24th (2:00 pm) in UW Mills Hall, Mosse Humanities Building. Please call the School of Music’s Concert Line (608) 265-2787 for tickets. You can also purchase tickets on line at the UW Choral Union web site. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $8 for students/seniors.

Die erste Walpurgisnacht (The First Walpurgis Night) is a secular cantata for soloists and choir composed by Felix Mendelssohn. The words are taken from a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The text involves Druids in the Harz mountains The piece is about 36 minutes in length. Sung in German.

The sections are titled:

  • Es lacht der Mai (May is in full bloom) Tenor & chorus of Druids & people.
  • Könnt ihr so verwegen handeln? (Could you be so rash, so daring?) Alto, old woman, & chorus of wives of the people.
  • Wer Opfer heut zu bringen scheut (Whoever fears to sacrifice) Baritone, priest, & chorus of Druids.
  • Verteilt euch, wackre Männer, hier (Divide your forces, valiant men) Chorus of Druid watchmen.
  • Diese dummen Pfaffenchristen (Christians and their priests are witless) Bass, watchman, & chorus of watchmen.
  • Kommt mit Zacken und mit Gabeln (Come with prongs and pitchforks) Chorus of Druids and people.
  • So weit gebracht, dass wir bei Nacht (It’s come so far that now by night) Baritone, priest, & chorus of Druids and people.
  • Hilf, ach hilf mir, Kriegsgeselle (Help, oh help me, comrade) Tenor & chorus of Christian watchmen.
  • Die Flamme reinigt sich vom Rauch (The flame is purified by smoke) Baritone, priest, & chorus of Druids and people.

Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) by Ralph Vaughan Williams was composed in 1936 to mark the hundredth anninversary of the Huddersfield Choral Society. The texts are taken from Walt Whitman poems, speeches and excerpts from The Bible. It was intended to be a plea for peace. It is scored for soprano and baritone soloists with chorus and orchestra. Sung in English.

“Die erste Walpurgisnacht”, p. 226 in The World of the Oratorio, Kurt Pahlen. Portland, OR: Amadeus Press, 1990.
“Die Erste Walprugisnacht”, retrieved from Wikipedia, accessed September 24, 2013. “”
“Dona Nobis Pacem”, retrieved from Wikipedia, accessed September 24, 2013. “”

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