Canticles of Praise will be performed by the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Sacramento on Oct. 29 & 30. Photo courtesy of Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra


Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra inspires with ‘Canticles of Praise’

By October 20, 2011

One of the great things about living in the Sacramento region is the access to great events in some truly remarkable settings. The region is home to world-class artists and performers, and there are some beautiful settings to showcase this talent.

Case in point: the opening of the 2011–12 season of the Sacramento Choral Society & Orchestra at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento in Sacramento on Oct. 29 & 30.

This talented group is an auditioned, volunteer chorus with a professional orchestra. Under the baton of Donald Kendrick, music director, the SCSO is committed to the performance, education and appreciation of a wide range of choral orchestral music.

Members of the chorus and orchestra come from all over the area, including El Dorado Hills. There are more than 170 dedicated singers and 55 professional orchestra players.

The SCSO will open the season with “Sacramento Stained Glass Concert One.” The actual title of the concert is “Canticles of Praise: Works of inspiring beauty, transcendence, exhilaration and hope.” The concert will be a showcase of music by Bernstein, Jongen and Mathias in the beautiful setting of one of Sacramento’s oldest and grandest structures. The concert will feature David Deffner, organist; Beverly Wesner Hoehn, harpist; Thomas Rance, percussionist; and the SCSO Brass Ensemble. Jack Baer will be the evening’s soloist.

The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was part of the largest concentration of buildings dating back to the California Gold Rush era. The stained glass windows in the cathedral are master works. The cathedral itself is modeled after L’Eglise de la Sainte-Trinite in Paris, France. The acoustic of this sacred space is a generous 4.5 seconds. If that weren’t enough, the recent restoration of the cathedral included an updated sound system to make them even better.

There will be two concerts, one Saturday evening and a matinee performance on Sunday.

The concert will begin with Leonard Bernstein’s (1918–1990) “Chichester Psalms.” This work is known for its musical difficulty. It is one of Bernstein’s “Jewish works,” and some material was originally intended for “West Side Story,” which originally was to have a Jewish-American gang.

The “Mass, Opus 130” by Joseph Jongen (1873–1953) is a “deeply impressive work,” with “captivating tints of Impressionistic colour … and beautifully paced choral writing,” according to “Gramophone.” Deffner will accompany the SCSO on the cathedral’s Reuter Organ. This instrument has two manuals and 24 ranks, and was “voiced” to take full advantage of the acoustic of the cathedral.

“Let the People Praise Thee” by William Mathias (1934–1992) is the final piece of the concert. This piece is most opulent, majestic and joyful — which is not surprising when one learns that this work was written for the royal wedding of 1981, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer. Sadly, the ending of that marriage has put a cynical taint on this hymn by some.

Music shows us our better selves, and can inspire us to become better than we are today. In the ethereal setting of the cathedral, these three works remind the listener of that. For this music is ultimately directed to heaven.

“Canticle of Praise/Sacramento Stained Glass Concert One” will be performed at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. and on Sunday, Oct. 30, at 3 p.m. The cathedral is located at 1017 11t St. in Sacramento. Pay parking is available. Tickets are $25 to $35, $12.50 for students. For tickets or more information call (916) 536-9065 or visit

Submit your arts or entertainment event for consideration in Susan’s column by emailing her at [email protected].

Susan Laird


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