The choral program at Loyola Marymount University on Saturday appeared, on first glance, to be a rather somber one, since three of the four works dealt with the subject of death. But those three--all by 20th-Century Englishmen--approach the subject with optimism and, indeed, joy.
John Rutter's Requiem, written in 1985, is as accessable as music can be. Unashamedly Romantic in style, its harmonies influenced by commercial music, the work nonetheless emerged balanced in form, exquisite in orchestration and sincere in expression. Like Faure, whose own Requiem seems to have influenced him, Rutter interpolated the traditional words of the Requiem with other texts, and the juxtaposition proved highly effective.
Paul Salamunovich, leading the choirs of St. Charles and St. Basil churches, gave full measure to the expressive and dynamic contrasts in the work. Soprano Meredith Salamunovich delivered the boy soprano solo in the "Pie Jesu" without vibrato and with ingenuous sensitivity; Raquel Haas' solo in the "Lux Aeterna" suffered from pitch and projection difficulties.
The LMU choruses joined the church choirs to perform Vaughan Williams' "Toward the Unknown Region," written in 1905-06 to a Walt Whitman text. The 150 singers rendered the thoroughly Romantic work with energy and drive.
The school's choruses opened with a buoyant and balanced reading of Schubert's Mass in C. This they followed with a probing account of Holst's evocative "Ode to Death," also set to a Whitman text.
A first-rate orchestra contributed handsomely to each of the works.