Brahms Requiem to be performed by the Berkeley Community Chorus & Orchestra (BCCO) June 21, 22, and 23 under the baton of Maestro Ming Luke at Hertz Hall.

Before taking the beloved Brahms Requiem on a European tour of the Baltic states and Sweden, BCCO will sing the Requiem for its local audience on June 21 at 8 pm, 22 at 3 pm, and 23 at 3 pm at Hertz Hall on the UC Berkeley campus. Ming Luke will lead the 240-member symphonic chorus and the orchestra and the audience through the gorgeous sonorities, masterful modulations, and deep emotions of the piece. Ellen Leslie, soprano, and Andrew Pardini, baritone, will be the featured soloists. As throughout all of the BCCO’s 53-year history, the concert will be free in keeping with BCCO’s foundational belief that “everyone should be able to enjoy great music.” (Of course, donations from the community to support BCCO are always welcome at the concerts or at any time.)

Brahms began writing his Requiem in 1865 following the death of his mother. The work was completed in its final seven-movement version in 1869 and performed in Leipzig with the Gewandhaus Orchestra and Chorus. In contrast to the traditional Latin requiem — based on liturgies for the souls of the dead — Brahms chose words from the Psalms and other books of the Bible to console the living for the loss of loved ones and to support their own journeys through a limited lifespan. According to Luke, “Brahms gave his Requiem the title A German Requiem because the texts he chooses are all quotes in German from the vernacular Lutheran Bible, and not from the traditional Latin requiem mass. In fact, Brahms said himself that he would happily call his requiem A Human Requiem.” By means of the beautiful texts that Brahms selected and the piece’s well-crafted musical structure, the Requiem delivers a solid and moving message of comfort, hope, and exaltation. The Requiem is one of the most popular choral works performed in concert halls around the world — and for good reason as attested by audiences from 1869 to the present.