MOS and Georgia Philharmonic partner again this season in a program of music by Claude Debussy and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Both of these composers have foundations in the Impressionist movement, a style that developed in the late nineteenth century as a reaction to the excesses of the Romantic era. Debussy is considered, along with Maurice Ravel, as a leader of Musical Impressionism, although he preferred not to use the term, choosing instead to say he was only trying to do “something different.” Vaughan Williams, arguably the greatest English composer of the 20th century, studied for a short time in Paris with Ravel, which contributed to his interest in lightness and color, along with the use of interesting modal systems, in his orchestrations.
Nocturnes was completed by Debussy in 1899 and consists of three movements of beautiful and atmospheric music. Debussy used the term “nocturne” to designate various impressions and special effects of light. The women of MOS join Georgia Philharmonic in the last movement, “Sirènes,” which depicts the sea and its countless rhythms, joined by the mysterious song of the Sirens.
Dona Nobis Pacem is considered to be one of the finest compositions of Vaughan Williams. Written in 1936, it expresses both the composer’s and the public’s anguish over the worsening political situation in Europe, which would eventually lead to World War II. The work is set in five movements and uses a variety of texts, including excerpts from poems by Walt Whitman.
Soloists for the Dona Nobis Pacem are Michelle Jarrell, Soprano and Brent Davis, Baritone.