A contrast in styles

Director Robert Demke has chosen two dramatically contrasting compositions for the Minot Chamber Chorale to sing at the Ann Nicole Nelson Hall at Minot State University on Sunday at 3 p.m. Each is from a musician now known as a composer, although during their lifetimes they supported themselves in very different manners.

One piece is by Johann Sebastian Bach, who made his living primarily as a performer in Germany; the other is by Charles Ives, an American insurance executive. Bach’s “Magnificat” was written 280 years ago; Ives’ “Psalm 90” was composed 90 years ago.

“The two works couldn’t be more opposite in style,” said Demke. “Ives’ early 20th century music is unique, with a lot of dissonance and close harmonies. He was not a professional musician, he wrote music as a hobby, although he was trained at Yale. He wrote the original version of ‘Psalm 90’ in 1902, and continued to revise it until 1923.

“Bach was always under the gun to produce music, and did so prolifically. Although they’re written in completely contrasting styles, I wanted to choose pieces that were both designed to praise God in different fashions.”

The chorale is performing the “Magnificat” in the original Latin, while “Psalm 90” is sung in English.

“We have a number of soloists I’d like to recognize,” Demke said. “Angela Stockman, Mary Muhlbradt, Cheryl Nilsen, Eric Furuseth, Maria Carpenter and Greg Carpenter, and Kari Files is our organist.”

While the Bach piece is one of the most recognizable choral pieces ever written – rich with dramatic moments and rhythmic vitality – Ives’ works are becoming more appreciated as his avant-garde style is more in tune with modern tastes.

“He did win a Pulitzer Prize in music towards the end of his life,” Demke noted.

There is no admission charge, but a free will offering will be accepted.