The only community chorale in Minot that can perform Charles Gounod's "Messe Solennelle" as written is the mixed voice choir the Minot Chamber Chorale.
The performance on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Ann Nicole Nelson Hall is directed by Robert Demke and features three soloists engaged especially for this concert.
"We are fortunate to have two of the finest doctorates helping out and a young man who has a lot of talent," he said. "The piece is so demanding in the number of voices, we didn't want to take any away from the Chorale."
Submitted Photo - - Featured soloists at the Minot Chamber Chorale’s performance of Gounod’s “Messe Solennelle,” also called St. Cecilia Mass are, from left, DeVera Bowles, Tim Olson and Kenneth Bowles.
Demke is referring to Minot State University music department faculty members Kenneth and DeVera Bowles, who will sing the tenor and soprano solos while Tim Olson sings baritone.
"He is planning to become a chorale director himself," Demke said.
"Messe Solennelle" was written in 1854, and is also known as the "St. Cecilia Mass," because it debuted on that saint's day. It follows the liturgy of the Roman Catholic rite except in one respect, which caused quite an uproar at the time. Gounod, who was an ardent Catholic all his life and indeed, studied for the priesthood changed the words to the "Agnus Dei," the prayer of submission to the Lord.
"His words are even more submissive than the original, but the (Church hierarchy) just saw the change and protested," Demke said. "The words we use are his. I find most musicians are spiritual, but Gounod was deeply religious.
"I think his genius is in understanding both the instrumental accompaniment and the vocals," Demke added. "We were lucky to get Kari Files on the organ and keyboard. She's also on staff (at MSU). Our relationship with them is tremendous."
Although "Solennelle" means "solemn," Demke said it is an enjoyable work.
"You will come away feeling better, and that's what music is all about," he said. "It causes us to reflect, which helps inspire us."
The performance is free and open to the public.