A Double Exposure of Barber's Agnus Dei

The Houston Chamber Choir
For the current The Front Row Performance of the Week Podcast we feature the venerable Houston Chamber Choir in colaboration with the Orpheus Chamber Singers of Dallas for a moving performance of the Agnus Dei setting by American composer Samuel Barber. . .

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Praised by Peter Phillips of the Tallis Scholars as "one of this country's leading ensembles," the Houston Chamber Choir has received critical acclaim for their imaginative programming and musical sensitivity. Under the direction of Founder and Artistic Director Robert Simpson this collection of 24 musicians has been playing a unique role in the cultural fabric of Houston since its inception in 1995 and continues to win praise for its innovative programming and musical excellence. The HCC brings it's audiences seldom-heard works, established masterpieces of all periods, and new works - especially those of Texas composers, including J. Todd Frazier, Michael Horvit, Rob Landes, and David Ashley White.The choir has performed at the national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and Chorus America in addition to the Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, S.C.

For the current The Front Row Performance of the Week Podcast we feature the Houston Chamber Choir in a joint performance with the Orpheus Chamber Singers of Dallas. The concert, held March 6th, 2005 at Houston's St. Paul's United Methodist Church, was called Double Exposure and featured, among other things, a very moving performance of the Agnus Dei by Samuel Barber.

Originaly, concieved as part of the second movement of the String Quartet, Op.11, and expanded in 1938 into the Adagio for Strings, the music for this setting of the Agnus Dei contains some of the most familiar sounds in all of American classical music. The Adagio was given it's first performance by Arturo Toscanini with the NBC Symphony Orchestra on November 5th, 1938 in New York and is remembered by many from it's inclusion into the funeral services for President John F. Kennedy. The composer modified the piece in 1967 into the eight-part choral work contained in this podcast.

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