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PREVIEW: Berkshire Lyric presents Bruckner’s Mass in F minor, Brahms’ Nänie, Arvo Pärt’s ‘Da pacem Domine’ Sunday, June 2, at Ozawa Hall

Bruckner studied Mozart's Requiem assiduously, and the craftsmanship of his harmonic writing in this mass reflects it.

Lenox — The 100-voice Berkshire Lyric Chorus and Lyric Orchestra will perform Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 in F minor, Brahms’ “Nänie,” and Arvo Pärt’s “Da pacem Domine” at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall on Sunday, June 2, at 3 p.m., in the ensemble’s annual masterworks concert. Jack Brown will conduct.

Mr. Brown and Berkshire Lyric love repertory for large chorus and full orchestra, and their program for June 2 proves it convincingly.

Years before its premiere, the first rehearsal of Bruckner’s Mass No. 3 in F minor, WAB 28, didn’t go well because, according to conductor Johann Herbeck, the piece was too long and too difficult. Even the composer acknowledged certain “difficulties of execution” and made revisions accordingly. Bruckner studied Mozart’s Requiem assiduously, and the craftsmanship of his harmonic writing in this Mass reflects it. None other than Johannes Brahms admired the piece.

Brahms’ “Nänie” is based on the poem by Friedrich Schiller, of “Ode to Joy” fame. It has a long, meandering, pastoral introduction—over a minute and a half—that has you champing at the bit for the alto voices to enter. And when they do, you are likely to enter a state of bliss very much like you feel when you first hear the chorus enter in the composer’s “German Requiem,” the headline act in last year’s 60th anniversary Berkshire Lyric concert at Tanglewood. In his choral music especially, the perfectionistic Brahms knew how to write harmonies that bear an uncanny resemblance to absolutely perfect peace. The introductory material returns after about nine minutes, and Brahms wraps up the piece after fooling you a few times with false endings. “Nänie” runs about 15 minutes.

Arvo Pärt’s haunting “Da pacem Domine,” composed in 2004, is performed annually in Spain to commemorate the victims of the 2004 Madrid train bombings. It is based on the Latin prayer for peace of the same name.

Jack Brown has conducted the Berkshire Lyric Chorus since 2007 in concerts ranging from Stravinsky and Rachmaninoff to Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana and Karl Jenkins’ Requiem. He is currently on the faculty of the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., where he teaches voice and directs the choral program, and during the summer months, he conducts the B’Shalom Chorale of the Berkshires. Jack is also on the staff of the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, where he shares the healing power of music with the patient community.

The soloists for Sunday are:

Hear Berkshire Lyric Chorus and Lyric Orchestra perform a program of Bruckner, Brahms, and Pärt, under the direction of Jack Brown, at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall on Sunday, June 2, at 3 p.m. Tickets, $35 (children ages 6 to 18 are free with an adult), are available here.


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