A cappella meets architecture Nov. 20

St. Louis Chamber Chorus presents ‘A Mentor’s Memory’

The St. Louis Chamber Chorus, the area’s only “itinerant choir,” will celebrate the 560 Music Center’s E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall with a concert titled “A Mentor’s Memory” Nov. 20.

Every concert hall is different: different architecture, different acoustics, different history.

For 56 seasons, the St. Louis Chamber Chorus — which describes itself as the area’s only “itinerant choir” — has devised a cappella programs that allow audiences to both visually and acoustically explore many of St. Louis’ most architecturally significant venues.

At 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20, the Chamber Chorus will pay its first visit to Washington University’s 560 Music Center. The concert, titled “A Mentor’s Memory,” will honor the academic setting with a series of works highlighting the relationships between celebrated classical composers and their most influential teachers.

“We trace a series of Continental tributes, from Gombert recalling Josquin, who in turn recalls Ockeghem, to that composer’s lament for Binchois,” says Philip Barnes, artistic director of the Chamber Chorus. “More recently, a chain of British tributes begins with Parry and ends with Howells.”

Helping audiences unravel these intricate lines of connection will be Washington University’s Craig Monson, PhD, the Paul Tietjens Professor of Musicology in Arts & Sciences, and Hugh Macdonald, PhD, professor emeritus of musicology. The pair will join Barnes for an informal discussion that will precede the concert, at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets are $26 in advance or $28 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the chamber chorus website.

The 560 Music Center is located at 560 Trinity Ave. The performance, which will take place in the E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, is co-sponsored by the Department of Music in Arts & Sciences.

For more information, call (314) 935-5566 or email daniels@wustl.edu.

The program will feature Nymphes des Bois (Deploration sur le mort de Johannes Ockeghem) by Josquin des Prez (c. 1450-1521). The piece is a setting of the poem by Jean Molinet and was written as a lament for Ockeghem’s death. Next will be Musae Jovis, a tribute to Josquin by Nicolas Gombert (1495-1560), followed by Ye Sacred Muses, an elegy by William Byrd (c. 1540-1623) on the death of the composer Thomas Tallis.

Also on the program will be works by Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958) and Hubert Parry (1848-1918).

The 560 Music Center, built in 1930, originally was commissioned as a synagogue by St. Louis’ Congregation Shaare Emeth. Working in an Art Deco style, Chicago architect Alfred S. Alschuler, who was known for his synagogues, simplified and streamlined the pilasters and other classical elements seen in his earlier temples.

“Typical of the style are the bands of geometric patterning and other flat decorative features, including the subtly shaded mosaics in the main auditorium representing religious symbols,” says architecture historian Esley Hamilton, an adjunct lecturer in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and author of A Brief History of the St. Louis Chamber Chorus (1995).

“The dominant violet-red color of the interior is regarded as a royal color in this tradition,” says Hamilton. “On the side facing Trinity Avenue, the building contains a large multipurpose room and a wealth of other facilities.”

Today the building, which was acquired by Washington University in 2005, houses three performance venues as well as teaching studios, rehearsal spaces and administrative offices for the music department.

Calendar Summary

WHO: St. Louis Chamber Chorus

WHAT: Music of Josquin des Prez, Nicolas Gombert, William Byrd, Charles Villiers Stanford, Ralph Vaughn Williams and Hubert Parry

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 20; pre-concert discussion at 2:30 p.m.

WHERE: E. Desmond Lee Concert Hall, 560 Music Center, 560 Trinity Ave., at the intersection of Trinity and Delmar Boulevard

COST: $26 advance, $28 at the door. Tickets can be purchased through the St. Louis Chamber Chorus website, www.chamberchorus.org.

INFORMATION: (314) 935-5566 or email daniels@wustl.edu.