Bel Canto Chorus presents Seven Last Words from the Cross/Lux Aeterna

Feb. 4, 2014

Bel Canto Chorus and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra are pleased to announce Seven Last Words from the Cross/Lux Aeterna on Sunday, March 9 at 3:00 pm at the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee.

Tickets ($25 - $33) are available online at or by phone at (414) 481-8801. Senior, student, and group discounts are available.

“Written within three years of each other, James MacMillan’s 'Seven Last Words from the Cross' and Morten Lauridsen’s 'Lux Aeterna' stand as two of the twentieth-century’s finest choral-orchestral works,” said Richard Hynson, Music Director of both Bel Canto Chorus and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra. “In choosing texts and setting them with such profound emotional connection, each composer has grappled with death and the vision of life after death. Whether a believer or not, listeners can relate to the themes of sacrifice, loss, and imponderable sadness as heard in MacMillan’s work. Lauridsen takes a more sacred approach in his meditations on different ways in which light has been used as a metaphor for God, for redemption, and for paradise. By combining these two powerful works, we have created a listening experience that covers the gamut of emotions from the most devastated sorrow to the well-being inspired by redemption and the ecstatic joy of paradise.”

Regarded by many as one of MacMillan’s masterpieces, "Seven Last Words from the Cross" draws on a compilation of texts from all four gospels to form a sequential presentation of the last seven sentences uttered by Christ (in English and Latin). MacMillan’s work was commissioned by BBC Television and broadcast in seven nightly episodes during Holy Week of 1994. Both the vocal and instrumental parts draw on characteristic models: Lutheran baroque techniques for the chorus, and the sophisticated British and Polish twentieth-century traditions of writing for the string orchestra.

Morten Lauridsen’s "Lux Aeterna," written in 1997 for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, is a 25-minute work in five movements set to various Latin texts about light. It is a poignant, modern requiem rich in unashamed consonant harmonies and lush haunting melodies. Lauridsen writes, “I composed Lux Aeterna in response to my mother’s final illness and found great personal comfort and solace in setting to music these timeless and wondrous words about Light, a universal symbol of illumination at all levels—spiritual, artistic, and intellectual.” The piece is often compared to Brahms’s "Requiem," also written after the passing of the composer’s mother, but “without the nineteenth-century guilt”—no “Day of Judgment” or gloom, just generosity and radiance throughout. Lauridsen uses the chant-like melodies and sophisticated counterpoint of the high Renaissance, especially the music of Josquin, for his inspiration in this composition.

The 2013 - 2014 Bel Canto Chorus concert season is presented in part with support from the United Performing Arts Fund (UPAF); the Bradley Foundation; the Herzfeld Foundation; CAMPAC, the Milwaukee County Arts Board; and the Wisconsin Arts Board.

Seven Last Words from the Cross/Lux Aeterna
Bel Canto Chorus and Milwaukee Chamber Orchestra
Sunday, March 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm
The Basilica of St. Josaphat
2333 S. Sixth St., Milwaukee, WI 53215
Tickets ($25 - $33) are available online at or by phone at (414) 481-8801. Senior, student, and group discounts are available.

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