On a sunny Palm Sunday in Sun Lakes, the Sun Lakes Community Choir gave us an extraordinary performance of Faure’s Requiem at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church. Once again, the idea for this performance was the brainchild of the choir director, Cris Evans, and was made possible to the Sun Lakes community’s residents by a generous gift in the form of a grant.
As with last year’s concert, this Requiem required a lot of coordination—mostly on the part of Cris Evans—and lots of practice. Singers from other church choirs and members of the Sun Lakes Chorale gathered with great enthusiasm to learn this particular piece. Some had sung it before, and some, like this writer, had never performed a piece like this. But under the tutelage of Cris, we all mastered the all-in-Latin piece, with much help from Bart Evans with our Latin pronunciations.
As a warm-up before the featured piece, the choir sang “Festival Gloria,” “O Magnum Mysterium,” and a great spiritual titled “There’s No Hidin’ Place Down Here,” with a solo by Gene Cline. These three numbers grabbed the attention of the audience and prepped them for the amazing Requiem.
The Fauré Requiem is a masterful piece that consists of seven movements: Introit and Kyrie, Offertory, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Angus Die, Libera, and In Paradisum. The melodies and moods of the different movements are all prayers seeking God’s guidance, peace, deliverance, and for His perpetual light to shine on those who have departed.
Our two stellar soloists were Bart Evans and Jodi Mattson. The accompanying orchestra made the sounds even more beautiful, melodic, and arresting. Cris Evans brought together 14 musicians, which included a string bass, violin, violas, bassoons, French horns, horns, a harp, cellos, organ, piano, and timpani. It was truly a magnificent sound. As with all musical productions that Cris Evans brings together, this one also put the spotlight on her enthusiasm, which is contagious, and hard work. With her abundant talent, Cris patiently teaches not just the musical notes, but the meaning, mood, and depth of the various movements and how to project those to the audience. Cris always wants the music she directs to be a personal experience to us as singers and to the audience. It is easy to sing for someone who is so sensitive to the “feelings” of each piece and what she hopes the audience gets from each performance.
And with this Requiem, Cris and the Sun Lakes Community Choir achieved their goals. The audience was moved, responsive, and so appreciative. Many of those in the audience could not say enough about the beautiful concert and expressed hope for another such concert next year. Let’s hope that happens.
The members of the choir will gladly come together next year to learn another classical piece to perform. We offer our thanks to all who participated—singers and accompanists—and to you, our audience.