Before the Storm

March 3, 2024, 3:00 pm
Sanders Theatre

45 Quincy Street
Cambridge MA 02138


Chorus pro Musica celebrates Austrian composer Anton Bruckner’s 200th birthday with a performance of his magnificent Mass No. 2 in E minor for chorus and fifteen winds, originally composed for an outdoor performance on the cathedral square in Linz.

Leonard Bernstein’s brilliant Candide (based on Voltaire’s 1759 satirical novella) premiered right here in Boston on October 29, 1956, and on Broadway later that year. Although not an immediate hit, it is now Bernstein’s best-known show after West Side Story.  In fact many of Candide’s songs were originally written for West Side Story, and vice versa. We are delighted to perform legendary conductor Robert Page’s splendid arrangements of “The Best of All Possible Worlds” and “Make Our Garden Grow”.

Japanese-American composer and singer Riley Ferretti’s eight-part a cappella setting of Sara Teasdale’s poem “A Prayer” celebrates the power of living a life for love.


Sara Trevor Teasdale was an American poet, born in 1883, whose lyrical poems were widely read and praised by her contemporaries. In 1918, she won the Pulitzer Prize for her collection, Love Songs. Riley Ferretti is a young Japanese American composer whose work focuses on vocal and electronic music, often in innovative ways. She writes of A Prayer that “this poem is so intriguing because of its power and confidence in living a life for love. In context with the title, the piece changes to a feeling of yearning that is nearly heartbreaking, which made me want to write this piece.”


Anton Bruckner was born in 1824 and grew up, the eldest of 11 children, in a suburb of Linz, on the Danube in Austria. He had early intensive training as a musician, organist, choir boy, and violinist but composing came later in his life. After serving in a number of positions as organist and teacher, he began composing seriously and was particularly inspired by studying the music of Wagner. But he was also deeply influenced by the Cecelian movement in Roman Catholic music, which advocated a turning away from opera and romantic era music and a return to the polyphony and unaccompanied choral music of Palestrina, Lassus, and other composers of two centuries earlier. In 1866, Bruckner was commissioned to compose a mass for the dedication of the votive chapel in the Linz Cathedral.

The Mass #2 in E Minor is notable for its unusual instrumentation of a wind ensemble, and for its lack of strings and soloists (which was explained as necessary because it would be performed outdoors in unpredictable weather at the dedication of the cathedral). The mass evokes the lush and romantic harmonies of Wagner. At the same time, the work incorporates homages to earlier eras of ecclesiastical music, including the a capella eight-part setting of the Kyrie, the traditional Gregorian intoning of the first verse of the Gloria and the Credo by the priest, and the use of a theme from Palestrina’s Missa Brevis in the Sanctus. Franz Xavier Witt, an influential musicologist and advocate for the reform of the Catholic church of the period, wrote: “The Mass in E minor… is a work without parallel in either 19th- or 20th-century church music…. Even as Bishop Rudigier was laying the foundation stone for a new cathedral, Bruckner too was beginning to raise a cathedral in music.”


Candide is an operetta that Leonard Bernstein worked and reworked for most of his creative life, collaborating with an astonishing array of some of the most talented writers, musicians, and lyricists of the 20th century—starting with Lillian Hellman and including Richard Wilbur, Stephen Sondheim, Dorothy Parker, and James Agee.

In 2015, Marin Alsop conducted Candide with the Baltimore Symphony and was interviewed by Scott Simon of NPR. She says that “in this one musical… Bernstein must touch on every single genre of European music ever written. And yet, he does it in a way that is so distinctively Bernstein, yet it’s not really a parody. It’s almost an homage to all things European.”

The show opens with Candide’s teacher Pangloss’s statement of his optimism that all men are brothers in this “Best of all Possible Worlds.” Candide holds fast to this teaching despite the onset of a panoply of horrors including war, murder and rape that rapidly beset his world.

At the end, after untold traumas, setbacks and losses, Candide and his beloved are reunited and sing the finale, “Make Our Garden Grow.” Leonard Bernstein’s daughter, Jamie, wrote that “when Candide says ‘cultivons notre jardin,’ Voltaire meant it as an expression of rueful resignation, an acceptance of one’s limitations—as if Candide were saying: ‘Oh, let’s quit spewing our fancy philosophy and go make ourselves useful for a change.’ But the music is telling us something completely different: the soaring chorus seems to be telling us that growing our garden is a metaphor for the flowering of mankind itself!”

Program notes by Stephanie Engel



Until I lose my soul and lie
Blind to the beauty of the earth,
Deaf though shouting wind goes by,
Dumb in a storm of mirth;
Until my heart is quenched at length
And I have left the land of men,
Oh, let me love with all my strength
Careless if I am loved again.


Kyrie eleison.
Christe eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy.
Christ have mercy.
Lord have mercy.
Gloria in excelsis Deo,
Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis.
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace toward men of good will.
Laudamus te.
Benedicimus te.
Adoramus te.
Glorificamus te.
We praise thee.
We bless thee.
We worship thee.
We glorify thee.
Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. We give thanks to thee for thy great glory,
Domine Deus, Rex coelestis,
Deus Pater omnipotens.
O Lord God, Heavenly King,
God the Father Almighty.
Domine Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe. O Lord, the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ;
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris. O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, deprecationem nostram. Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our prayer.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Who sits at the right hand of God the Father, have mercy upon us.
Quoniam tu solus Sanctus.
Tu solus Dominus.
For you alone are the Holy One.
You alone are the Lord.
Tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe. You alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ.
Cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris.
With the Holy Spirit, in the glory of God the Father.
Credo in unum Deum
Patrem omnipotentem,
factorem coeli et terrae,
visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
I believe in one God,
The Father almighty,
Maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum,
Filium Dei unigenitum,
Et ex Patre natum ante omnia saecula.
And [I believe] in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
The only begotten Son of God,
Born of the Father before all ages.
Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine,
Deum verum de Deo vero.
God from God, light from light,
True God from true God.
Genitum, non factum, consubstantialem Patri:
per quem omnia facta sunt.
Begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father:
through whom all things were made.
Qui propter nos homines,
et propter nostram salutem
descendit de coelis.
Who for us men
and for our salvation
came down from heaven.
Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine:
Et homo factus est.
And by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary:
And was made man.
Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato:
passus, et sepultus est.
For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate:
He suffered death, and was buried.
Et resurrexit tertia die,
secundum scripturas.
And on the third day He rose again
in accordance with the scriptures.
Et ascendit in coelum:
sedet ad dexteram Patris.
And ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father
Et iterum venturus est
cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos:
Cujus regni non erit finis.
And He shall come again
in glory to judge the living and the dead:
His kingdom shall have no end.
Et in Spiritum sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem:
Qui ex Patre, Filioque procedit.
And [I believe in] the Holy Spirit, the Lord, giver of life:
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
Qui cum Patre, et Filio simul adoratur, et conglorificatur:
Qui locutus est per Prophetas.
Who with the Father and Son together is adored and glorified:
Who has spoken through the Prophets.
Et unam sanctam catholicam et apostolicam Ecclesiam. And [I believe] in one holy, catholic and apostolic church.
Confiteor unum baptisma
in remissionem peccatorum.
I acknowledge one baptism
for the forgiveness of sins.
Et expecto resurrectionem mortuorum And I look forward to the resurrection of the dead
Et vitam venturi saeculi.
And the life of the world to come.
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus,
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Holy, holy, holy
Lord God of Hosts.
Pleni sunt coeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Benedictus qui venit
in nomine Domini.
Blessed is he that cometh
in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in excelsis. Hosanna in the highest.
Agnus Dei
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.


Let us review lesson eleven,
Paragraph two, Axiom seven.

Once one dismisses
The rest of all possible worlds,
One finds that this is
The best of all possible worlds.
Pray, classify pigeons and camels.
Pigeons can fly. Camels are mammals.
There is a reason for everything under the sun.


What about snakes?


’Twas Snake that tempted Mother Eve
Because of Snake we now believe
That though depraved, we can be saved
From hellfire and damnation.
Because of snake’s temptation.
If Snake had not seduced our lot,
And primed us for salvation,
Jehovah could not pardon all
The sins that we call cardinal,
Involving bed and bottle!
Now on to Aristotle!


Mankind is one,
All men are brothers.
As you’d have done,
Do unto others,
It’s understood in
This best of all possible worlds,
All’s for the good in
This best of all possible worlds.


What about war?

Well, it seems to me . . .

Though war may seem a bloody curse,
It is a blessing in reverse.
When cannons roar,
Both rich and poor
By danger are united.
Till every wrong is righted.
Philosophers make evident
The point that I have cited.
’Tis war makes equal, as it were,
The noble and the commoner,
Thus war improves relations.

Now on to conjugations.
Amo, amas, amat, amamus.
Proving that this is
The best of all possible worlds.
With love and kisses,
The best of all possible worlds.
Quod erat demonstrandum!
Q. E. D.
In this best of all possible worlds.
Quod erat demonstrandum.
Q. E. D!


You’ve been a fool and so have I,
But let’s be man and wife.
And let us try before we die
To make some sense of Life.
We’re neither pure nor wise nor good;
We’ll do the best we know;
We’ll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.
I thought the world was sugar-cake,
For so our master said;
But now I’ll teach my hands to bake
Our loaf of daily bread.
We’re neither pure nor wise nor good;
We’ll do the best we know;
We’ll build our house, and chop our wood,

And make our garden grow.
Let dreamers dream what worlds they please;
Those Edens can’t be found.
The sweetest flowers, the fairest trees
Are grown in solid ground.
We’re neither pure, nor wise nor good;
We’ll do the best we know.
We’ll build our house, and chop our wood,
And make our garden grow.