Opening the program are selections from Hugo Distler’s influentialMörike-Chorliederbuch, premiered to great acclaim in Graz in 1939 yet unfamiliar to many here in the USA. Eduard Mörike (1804-1875) was a Lutheran pastor, professor of German literature, and highly regarded writer; Distler uses 39 of his lyrics for the songbook, broken into sections for full chorus, women’s chorus, and men’s chorus. Our conductor Debra Lenssen, a Wellesley College graduate now teaching and directing opera in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is a specialist in the choral music of Distler. The Vaughan Williams pastoral scene “Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains,” based on John Bunyan’s A Pilgrim’s Progress and first performed in 1922, was recast almost 30 years later in the complete opera “Pilgrim’s Progress” using much the same harmonic language – but how novel the polychordal sounds referencing heaven were to the Britons in 1922 we can only guess. The remainder of Canto Armonico’s program is devoted to music by Tudor composer and Roman Catholic William Byrd, including the astonishing and highly personal late motet “Infelix Ego.”


The Boston Globe’s Matthew Guerrieri has written a story about the upcoming performance:


On Saturday, Canto Armonico will perform selections from Hugo Distler’s “Mörike-Chorliederbuch,” a cappella choral settings of texts by the 19th-century poet Eduard Mörike. The work’s 1939 premiere was a high point of Distler’s career. A composer, organist, and conductor, Distler rapidly became a leading figure in German sacred music in the 1930s. But the rise of the Nazis brought eventually intolerable pressures.

read more at the Boston Globe website


Hugo Distler: Mörike-Chorliederbuch, selections
Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Shepherds of the Delectable Mountains
William Byrd: Ye Sacred Muses, Ne Irascaris Domine, Infelix Ego, Fantasia @4 (for viol consort)
First Lutheran Church, 299 Berkeley St., Boston
Saturday evening, March 7th at 8:00 pm
Tickets: $30 general admission, $20 seniors, $15 students and low income
Tickets available at door
or buy online


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