Beautiful Minds

Saturday, October 12th, 2013 @ 8:00 pm
St. James Cathedral

This concert will feature works by composers and poets who created works of magnificent beauty in the midst of their own personal struggles with mental illness. Their determination to persevere in their artistic endeavors is an example and an encouragement to all who face personal afflictions, whether physical or mental.

The two major works on the concert are the Chichester Mass by American composer William Albright and Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb. Albright’s mass is a uniquely creative and impressionistic setting of the traditional text by a composer who struggled emotionally and mentally with alcoholism for many years. Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb is included on the program both to honor the 2013 centenary of Britten’s birth and because of the theme of this concert. Britten composed this festival cantata at the age of 30 in the midst of the Second World War during a period in his life characterized by what the composer himself referred to as “horrible attacks of depression,” no doubt due at least in part to the conflicts between his deeply held pacifism and the war that was ravaging his homeland. The commission reportedly lifted Britten’s spirits and helped dispel the cloud of depression hanging over him, a fine example of the frequently acknowledged healing power of creativity. For years prior to the commission, Britten had wanted to set the text of the work, Jubilate Agno, by the 18th-century poet Christopher Smart, who was incarcerated several times at the behest of his father-in-law supposedly for madness and religious mania, although some say historians claim it was because of the ongoing debt that Smart accrued to himself and his family. Whatever the reasons, many see Smart’s religious poetry written during his years of confinement in asylums as indicative of the thin line between madness and genius.

Other works on this concert by Bruckner, Distler, Mahler, Schubert, Schumann, and Wolf demonstrate profound expressions of beauty and faith, even in the midst of personal challenges such as severe depression, bipolar disorder or profound anxiety.

Please join Opus 7 for this unique concert of works that explore the intersection of mental illness, creativity, compassion, beauty, and faith.

Concert repertoire:

Der 23. Psalm, Op. 132, D 706 Schubert
Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen Mahler/Gottwald
Rejoice in the Lamb Britten
from Sech Geistliche Lieder Hugo Wolf
Hei, mihi Domine Gesualdo
In der Welt habt ihr Angst, op.12,7 Distler
Christus factus est Bruckner
Chichester Mass Albright
Talismane from Vier doppelchörige Gesänge, Op. 141 (1849) Schumann