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Adams’ ‘Passion’ in need of performers

Stewart Oksenhorn
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Ray Adams is putting out the call again: He needs more voices for his “Passion,” a sacred choral work to be performed next month by the Aspen Choral Society.

Adams would like to see another 30 singers turn out for rehearsals for the piece. Adams’ “Passion” will premiere April 2-3 at Harris Concert Hall.

Rehearsals in Aspen are at the Aspen Community Church on Sundays at 4 p.m. and Tuesdays at 6 p.m. For downvalley participants, rehearsals are Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church.

Adams, who also directs and conducts the Choral Society, isn’t sure why the number of singers is down for his latest creation, but he has some ideas.

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One is that the performances fall at the tail end of spring break. Another is that singers who have participated in his other recent debuts ” including “Angels” and his “Requiem” ” are finding the material difficult, but Adams assures that should not be a concern.

“If people are afraid the piece is too hard ” and it is hard, the most complicated piece I’ve ever written ” I’ve made part tapes for the different voices, to make it easy to learn,” he said.

The final possible reason is also the most intriguing. Adams wonders if people are shying away because of the religious nature of the text to which Adams sets his music. Adams’ recent compositions have all taken their text from a wide range of religious and spiritual writings, from Jewish to Christian, Hindu to Sufi.

“I don’t want people to be afraid of this. That’s my bottom line,” sayeth Adams, whose “Passion” is based on the usual variety of texts ” Old Testament, the Gospels, even a Mary Magdalene love story ” assembled by scholar, author and Episcopal minister Cynthia Bourgeault. “I bet if we were singing Mozart’s ‘Requiem’ again, we’d have more singers. Because it’s in Latin and people wouldn’t know what they’re singing and wouldn’t see it as religious.”

Finally, Adams thinks maybe there is a little too much religious heaviosity in the air, with his “Passion” coming on the heels of the controversy over Mel Gibson’s film, “The Passion of the Christ.” It is familiar terrain for Adams. His work “Revelation,” about the prophesied end days, was written in the first days of September of 2001.

“The week I finished ‘Revelation,’ I sat down and saw the Twin Towers collapse, and that looked like the end of the world to me ” which is exactly what I had written about,” he said. When Adams heard about Gibson’s film ” last summer, while Adams was composing his own “Passion” ” “I thought, oh, here we go again,” he said.

The most curious part of it all to Adams is that he had planned his sequence of compositions five years ago.

The next piece up for Adams, to be premiered next year, is “Creation,” which looks at different religious theories on the creation of the world.

For further information, call Adams at 925-3685.


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