Choral Arts Philadelphia to perform two ‘lost’ oratorios

by Michael Caruso
Posted 4/13/23

Matthew Glandorf will conduct Choral Arts Philadelphia in two performances of a pair of oratorios by Giacomo Carissimi long thought to be lost to posterity.

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Choral Arts Philadelphia to perform two ‘lost’ oratorios


Matthew Glandorf will conduct Choral Arts Philadelphia in two performances of a pair of oratorios by Giacomo Carissimi long thought to be lost to posterity. The concerts are set for Saturday, April 22, at 4 p.m., in the Episcopal Church of the Holy Trinity in Center City, and Sunday, April 23, at 3 p.m. in the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont. Glandorf is the music director at Good Shepherd.

 Collaborating with Choral Arts will be Tempesta di Mare, Philadelphia Baroque Orchestra. Many of Tempesta’s local concerts are performed in the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill. Richard Stone and Gwyn Roberts are the co-founders and co-directors of Tempesta, which has established an international reputation for its thrilling renditions of music composed in the 17th and 18th centuries.

 Glandorf explained that “in 2017, Richard Stone was granted the opportunity to do a research trip to the town of Kromeriz in the modern Czech Republic. In the archbishop’s palace is housed one of the most extensive collections of 17th and 18th century music manuscripts from all over Europe. Several of the items contained in the collections are unpublished, many by famous composers of the time.

 “Among some works Stone discovered,” he continued, “were four oratorios by Giacomo Carissimi (1605-74) which had never been published. These scores were known to have been catalogued but had never been transcribed or edited in modern editions. The four oratorios are based on the Old Testament stories of Noah, David and Goliath, Queen Esther and the Song of Deborah.”

 Glandorf explained that Stone took the scans of the original “part books” and then transformed them into modern performing editions commissioned by Choral Arts.

 “Carissimi is acknowledged as the ‘Father of the Oratorio,’ a genre intended for the education and edification of students, priests and scholars at the Collegium Germanicum, the Jesuit Institute in Rome,” Glandorf pointed out. “It is clear that these works were intended for elite, intellectual circles, as all of his oratorio texts were written in Latin. Carissimi was highly celebrated in his own time, and his works were copied and widely performed.”

 Glandorf added that one of Carissimi’s most famous students was Marc-Antoine Charpentier. He brought the “Italianate” style of music to France, where the oratorio enjoyed great popularity. The form reached its zenith of success in the English-language oratorios of the German-born, Italian-educated, English-resident George Frideric Handel. His masterpiece, “Messiah,” has held pride-of-place among oratorios since its premiere in Dublin, Ireland, in April, 1742, to this very day.

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 Liszt’s ‘Via Crucis’ at St. Martin’s Church

 Parish director of music and arts, Tyrone Whiting, led a liturgical performance of Franz Liszt’s “Via Crucis” (“The Way of the Cross”) Palm Sunday afternoon, April 2, in the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields in Chestnut Hill. Billed as a musical devotion on the “Stations of the Cross” for organ and choir, the music was set within the 14 “Stations” that mark off the path Jesus Christ took in Jerusalem from his condemnation by the Roman Pro-Consul Pontius Pilate to the mount of Calvary, where he was crucified.

 Liszt employed a well-chosen variety for the 14 musical movements. Some were for full chorus, some for choral renderings of Gregorian chant, some for solo voices, and some for solo organ. With the seminal participation of the Rev. James H. Littrell, the church’s interim rector who read the appropriate prayers with quiet intensity, Whiting held the liturgy together with a firm yet sensitive hand from the console of St. Martin’s beautiful pipe organ.

 He elicited warmly projected, finely shaped and expertly tuned singing from his choir of professionals and volunteers. His soloists sang with emotional expressivity kept securely within the bounds of liturgical practice and his short passages of solo organ playing were characterized by telling registrations.

 Musical Weekend

 The weekend of April 28-30 will be marked by music at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill. The final installment of the parish’s “Five Fridays” set of fundraising recitals is set for April 28 at 7:30 p.m. The featured performers will be violinist Yu-Ting Chen, cellist Clancy Newman and pianist Natalie Zhu. The church will host its final Choral Evensong of the season Sunday, April 30, at 5 p.m. Visit for more information.

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