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Community chorus set to perform ‘The Crucifixion’

MERIDEN — The Greater Meriden Community Chorus joins the Orange Congregational Church senior choir Saturday to perform the choral masterwork “The Crucifixion” by John Stainer.

The concert, at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, will be the first time the community chorus has performed Stainer’s 1887 oratorio, which features 20 movements and five hymns for audience participation, said chorus Director Nancy Stewart.

“This is a choral work usually done during the Lenten season,” Stewart said.

“The Crucifixion: A Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer” is scored for choir and organ and features solos for bass and tenor. Award-winning baritone Chai-lun Yueh will sing the role of Jesus in Saturday’s production. Yueh is known for his dramatic, dark and powerful voice. He has performed at Carnegie Hall, Chicago Symphony Hall, Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, the National Opera of China, Beijing and in more than 20 other countries and regions.

“We’re lucky to have him in the state,” Stewart said.

Naugatuck tenor Brian Joy will perform the role of the Evangelist in the production. This is Joy’s and Yueh’s first time singing the parts.

“It reminded me very much of when I went to Holy Week services and we had the mini passion play with the congregation responses,” he said. “It would have been much more effective to me as a children if it had the sensitive, beautiful music.”

Joy said the difficulty in singing the piece is in the simplicity of the vocal writing. It’s not melodically challenging or a bombastic virtuoso piece.

“The artist needs to respect what the composer is trying to say,” Joy said.

Shari Lucas will provide the organ accompaniment for a score that Stewart describes as powerful and well written.

“You can hear the sadness and victory,” Stewart said.

Bryan Campbell, the director of the Orange Congregational Church will direct the oratorio, as Stewart is performing in West Virginia this weekend. Campbell said the two directors had worked on the cantata before, but this time Campbell is the director.

The choruses have been rehearsing since January, with Campbell attending Stewart’s rehearsals at the Bradley Home.

“He’ll get the most out of the choruses,” she said.

“The Crucifixion” begins at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew’s Church, 20 Catlin St. An encore performance will be held at the Orange Congregational Church Sunday at 4 p.m.

The two churches, acoustics and organs couldn’t be more different, Campbell said. St. Andrew’s has high ceilings, and is dark, while the Orange Congregational Church is a smaller colonial church.

“It will be interesting for the choir and Shari,” Campbell said.

Reservations can be made in advance by calling (203) 237-9198, or tickets can obtained at the door. (203) 317-2255 Twitter: @Cconnbiz

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