Requiem masses for the dead are not generally joyous musical compositions, but a new commission by the Gay Mens Chorus of South Florida pairs an uplifting contemporary example of the genre with equally inspired Broadway show tunes and pop music.
The chorus, under the direction of artistic director Harold Dioquino, will present From the Heavenly to the Divineon March 29 and 30 at the Sunshine Cathedral and the program is sublime, said the conductor.
The program will open with Scandinavian composer Kim André Arnesen’s “Requiem for Solace,” an arrangement for men’s voices commissioned by the chorus.
“Generally, requiems are written for the dead,” explained Dioquino, “but this composer, an up-and-coming young composer, has reimagined the mass for the living. He has a crossover style, melodic with modern taste and sensibilities…composers sometimes just throw notes around, but he never does.”
The 135 men of the chorus will be joined by guest soprano Lissette Jimenez and the Singing Sons of South Florida, the renowned boys choir, as well as the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami, promising more than just great music. Strings, brass and percussionists will back the performers in the eight-movement work, which includes a musical setting of an Emily Dickenson poem, “Not in Vain,” and concludes with a moving “We Remember Them.”
Dioquino and the chorus leadership have been working for years to come up with the “right” opportunity to collaborate with both the Singing Sons and Cuban Classical Ballet.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for the longest time,” he said.
Dioquino promised “two concerts in one” as the chorus will return from the intermission with a fun selection of show tunes and pop numbers. The chorus will treat the audience to “A Musical” from the Broadway hit, “Something Rotten,” the imagined birth of musical theater in Elizabethan England; “A Million Dreams” from “The Greatest Showman,” featuring boy soprano Sean Sterling from the Singing Sons; and the rousing “Before the Parade Passes By” from “Hello, Dolly!”
Composer Mark Hayes has created an inspirational medley for men’s voices of two Richard Rodgers songs, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and “Climb Ev’ry Mountain,” and the small ensemble Tropical Heat will sing an arrangement of the Elvis Presley hit, “Teddy Bear,” arranged in the style of a Bach fugue by one of Dioquino’s friends in the Philippines.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida presents “From the Heavenly to the Divine,” March 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. at the Sunshine Cathedral, 1480 S.W. 9thAve. in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets start at $40 at GMCSF.org.