GO Arts: Crowd-funding Brahms: Northwest Repertory Singers finance 'Deutsches Requiem' through indigogo.com

Tacoma News TribuneMay 12, 2014 

Is Brahms’ “Deutsches Requiem” popular in Tacoma? You’d better believe it, because the Northwest Repertory Singers just raised $8,525 – via crowdfunding platform indigogo.com – to pay for their performances of the Romantic choral masterpiece in Tacoma and Tukwila this weekend.

“I was very skeptical (initially),” said director Paul Schultz, of the online funding campaign. “But it’s done well. Something right is happening!”

The choir, made up of volunteers and usually performing at Mason United Methodist church, needed $12,000 in extra funds for the Brahms concert to pay for the Rainier Symphony, soloists Jeananne Houston and Charles Robert Stephens, and the two larger halls (Lagerquist at Pacific Lutheran University and Foster High School hall in Tukwila) that would fit all the extra performers. Some of the money was raised offline, but in two months the choir topped their $8,000 goal on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding website that’s becoming more popular for arts groups around the region, as well as personal projects as it takes less of a commission than its competitor Kickstarter.com.

For Schulz, it’s the realization of a childhood dream, when he wept on hearing the work for the first time.

I remember telling my mother that I would give anything to be in that place and hear that music one day,” said the director in a choir newsletter.

Breaking the pattern of requiem mass settings that followed the traditional Latin of the Catholic mass for the dead, Brahms assembled his own libretto from the German bible in what Schulz calls “an extraordinary marriage of music and text,” pointing out that while the traditional mass mourns the dead, Brahms’ text focuses on the living, and on their comfort and sympathy. He finished the work in 1868, three years after his mother died.

Coincidentally, another regional choir is also presenting the “Deutsches Requiem” this weekend: Seattle Pro Musica, with soprano Alexandra Picard and baritone Charles Robert Austin.

Says director Karen Thomas: “We are presenting Brahms’ great masterwork with full orchestra in a cathedral setting, which was his intent for the first performance. “Ein deutsches Requiem” premiered in 1868 in the Bremen Cathedral – a building similar in size and acoustic to Seattle’s St James Cathedral. Hearing this magnificent work in the architectural and spiritual setting that Brahms intended it for is a revelatory experience.”


Northwest Repertory Singers: 7:30 p.m. May 17 at Lagerquist Hall, Pacific Lutheran University, 12180 Park Ave. S., Tacoma; 3 p.m. May 18 at Foster High School Performing Arts Center, 4242 S. 144th St., Tukwila. 253-265-3042, nwrs.org

Seattle Pro Musica: 8 p.m. May 17 and 18 at St. James Cathedral, 9th and Marion Streets, Seattle. $38 prime/$28 adult/$21 senior/$15 student. 800-838-3006, bit.ly/brahms2014, seattlepromusica.org

Rosemary Ponnekanti: 253-597-8568 rosemary.ponnekanti@thenewstribune.com

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