Published March 1, 2007
For centuries the Stations of the Cross have been one of the most popular of Lenten Catholic devotions, and for centuries artists—both visual and musical—have responded to the power of the Stations through magnificent paintings and song. On Friday, March 16, at 7:30 p.m., the Cathedral Choir, the Schola Nova and the Schola Cantorum of the Cathedral of Christ the King will present a dramatic blending of sight and sound in their presentation of “Visions of the Cross, Meditations on the Way of the Cross.”
Christ the King’s meditation on the Stations consists of a series of musical illuminations, as well as large projections, at each stop on the “Way of the Cross.” The projections for each of the Stations are drawn from the works of master Renaissance painters of the late 15th to early 16th century.
Kelly Morris of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, and a frequent collaborator with the Cathedral Choir, has drawn together moving images of Christ’s journey to the cross. “The powerful visions that have flowed from the brushes of such artists as Hieronymus Bosch, Hans Memling and Domenico Ghirlandio not only decorate the walls of countless churches throughout Europe but have the remarkable ability to flourish in our own imaginations. These masterworks are among the greatest treasures of the church because of their timeless power to communicate the Passion of Christ.”
Likewise, the music for the program reflects the varied and diverse qualities of Lenten music from simple ancient chants to starkly beautiful contemporary settings. Culver notes that “… it is a testament to the powerful imagery and impact of the Stations that settings so diverse as medieval chant, 16th- and 17th-century polyphony by Victoria and Palestrina, 18th-century Baroque masterpieces by Antonio Lotti and the imaginative sounds of 20th-century contemporary composers like Arvo Part work together in this musical representation to create a timeless fabric of sound and emotion.”
The program will culminate with the famous Miserere of Gregorio Allegri, a demanding and hypnotic work for multiple choirs. Allegri, a tenor singer and respected composer, was appointed to the papal choir in 1629. A number of legends have arisen with this work, including the alleged fact that it was so treasured that excommunication was the punishment for its unauthorized copying. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is said to have made one of these “unauthorized” copies while listening to the performance of the piece. What is certain is that Allegri’s Miserere has been sung by the papal choir every year during Holy Week since 1635.
This combination of imposing image and text with masterful music was the primary reason Christ the King decided to start these Lenten musical meditations three years ago. “The season of Lent, as reflected in the procession of readings and liturgies from Sunday to Sunday and week to week, has such a dramatic movement and pace,” said Culver. “We wanted to capture some of this movement through emotional and liturgical time with these special Friday evening presentations.”
Culver added, “We hope this series can bring this music that is at the heart of the Lenten season into the hearts of all those who come into contact with it.”