Music for the community

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By Kirsten Laskey

Some tunes come and go. For example, at one point, everyone seemed to swing their hips and embrace the simple lyrics of the “Macarena,” but now, most people scratch their heads and wonder why.


But there are other songs that stand the test of time and their value is never questioned.

Ralph Vaughn William’s choral pieces are among those considered timeless. Luckily for the community, the Los Alamos Choral Society, along with members of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, will perform Vaughn Williams’ work during its upcoming concert, titled, “Choral Masterworks by Ralph Vaughn Williams.”

Choral director Mary Badarak explained Vaughn Williams music was selected because one of the things the Choral Society attempts to do is choose music designed for choral ensembles or amateur groups.

Vaughn Williams composed the “Five Mystical Songs,” which will be featured in the concert, between 1906-1911. The works are based on George Herbert’s poems, “The Temple: Sacred Poems.”

The chorus will also perform, “Dona nobis pacem,” or “give us peace,” which is partly drawn from Walt Whitman’s poems.  

Badarak said “Five Mystical Songs,” was first performed in the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, England and became an instant success. During recent years, she added, there has been resurgence in interest toward these works. In addition to being composed for community choruses, Badarak said she choose Vaughn Williams’ work because it is in English so the audience will be able to see a variety of moods in the pieces.

She added Vaughn Williams is considered a genius in his compositions because “it’s very dramatic and his choice of text is very close to the heart of ordinary people.

Also, the sentiment of the music, the desire for people and unity, that kind of attitude (is featured in his music).”

Badarak said, “Even though it’s 20th century music, it tends to be very harmonious … emotionally moving, picturesque in style. He follows a long line of composers who have a sense of connection between the composer, the performers and audience.”

Additionally, “I think it allows us to explore music written for community chorus and community audiences,” Badarak said.  

She encourages the community to come out and enjoy Vaughn William’s music. “It’s beautiful music,” Badarak said. “It’s exciting music. It’s different, even though it was written in the 20th century, it is very accessible. It’s an interesting thing; I think that everybody who comes to listen to something like this comes for their own reasons and yet there’s something about this kind of music that affects people. It will affect their lives.”

The audience will not only be treated to the talent of the choral society but also to the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra.

Badarak said this will be the choral society’s fourth collaboration with the orchestra. She said the chorus has enjoyed working with the symphony orchestra year after year.

 “They are fine musicians,” she said. “We deeply appreciate our collaboration with the symphony each year.”

The concert will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. Tickets are $15 for general admission and students will be admitted for free.