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A requiem for the people

Rogue Valley Chorale will partner with members of Rogue Valley Symphony to present Brahms' longest work, "The German Requiem."

"As far as chorale work, it's his (Brahms') most intimate," says conductor Lynn Sjolund. "It speaks to all human beings. The text is profound, and the music is even more so."

The chorale, accompanied by a chamber orchestra made up of 20 members of the symphony, will perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb., 25, and at 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

Unlike a traditional requiem (a Latin mass for the dead), Brahms' was written in his native tongue and later translated to English. He wanted it to be called the "Human Requiem" because people could understand its common language, says Doris Sjolund, who sings alto in the chorale.

The piece is seven movements long with texts taken directly from Scripture.

"There are gorgeous melodies full of motifs of sorrow and all the emotions that go along with death," Sjolund says.

While some movements play like a dirge, others contain uplifting passages that encouraged some chorale members facing recent tragedies, she says.

"The first movement uses the dark colors of the orchestra — the cello, the viola and the bass — but as it works through this grieving process, the harmonies get more major and more bright and the piece moves faster," Lynn Sjolund says.

The concert will feature two soloists: baritone Michael Wing and soprano Susan White.

At the beginning of the concert, pianist Martin Majkut, conductor of Rogue Valley Symphony, will perform Brahms' Capriccio in D minor and Rhapsody in G minor. Violist Kimberly Fitch also will join him to play one movement of Brahms' "Sonatensatz."

Kurt Katzmar, a former announcer for Jefferson Public Radio, will present preconcert lectures, which explore the themes and motives behind "The German Requiem," one hour before each show.

Tickets cost $20, $5 for students, and are available at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., Medford, and www.craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

Martin Majkut joins Rogue Valley Chorale this weekend. - Photo by Bob Pennell