After the usual chitchat, I asked about the impetus of the concert, which highlights choral music with Islamic, Jewish, and Christian texts. Pontén explained, "I personally felt I couldn't do anything directly about what's going on in Iraq, but I can do something about bringing people together here. These texts remind us how much the three faiths have in common."
The religious script found in this concert's works by Brahms, Leonard Bernstein, and others is apt, often uncomfortably so, including Egil Hovand's "Jerusalem" from the book of Luke: "Would that today you knew the things that make for peace!/From your eyes they now are hidden." Or from Brahms' "Ach, arme Welt" from Drei Motetten: "Your glory and your wealth, you poor world,/are lacking in death and times of real need;/your treasure is in vain, false money."
Opus 7 also commissioned Bern Herbolsheimer, perhaps our burg's most adept choral composer, to set to music a hopeful text by the Sufi mystic Rumi: "May your love lift me beyond the sky/And from these two worlds, may my soul rise./May the sun of your love touch my rain, That I may ascend with you, like a cloud." On a more terrestrial note: Doors open at St. James at least a half-hour early so show up then for good seats or make a reservation. CHRISTOPHER DeLAURENTI