Bellarmine Chapel to Feature American Premiere of Baroque Gem

Text has words of wisdom for us in these times | February 17, 2009


On March 21 at 7:30 pm, Xavier University’s select vocal Schola Cantorum, Harmonia Sacra, a professional ensemble of area liturgical musicians, and a professional chamber orchestra will present evening prayer with a twist at Bellarmine Chapel. The musical centerpiece will be the first ever American performance of a composition by Galuppi. Who? Baldassare Galuppi (1706–85) was a Venetian composer, noted for his operas, particularly opera buffa. By the time he died, he was one of the best-known and most respected musical figures. He was a contemporary of Antonio Vivaldi but much more popular. After Galuppi’s death, an unscrupulous music publisher sold some of Vivaldi’s works under Galuppi’s name. Now, you have a chance to hear the music of Galuppi, the most popular musician of his time. Bellarmine’s evening prayer service is of course free and open to the public and will also include Bach’s motet Komm, Jesu, Komm and Brahms’ Schaffe in mir, Gott.
Scot Buzza, director of liturgical music at Xavier’s Bellarmine Chapel for eight years, found an original score of Galuppi’s Nisi Dominus in a Dresden library, written in Galuppi’s own hand. The library contains the collections of three libraries which merged after WWII. It has so many documents that, until recently, it had no idea of all it holds. A Dresden ensemble performed the piece about a decade ago, using that handwritten score.
“This piece is immediately accessible,” Buzza says “It is tuneful, well-crafted and instantly likeable.”
Buzza is creating a performance score and the March performance will be the performance premiere of that new score. Nisi Dominus is scored for SATB, 2-6 soloists, chamber orchestra with continuo, and theorbo. The lone theorbo player in this region is unavailable that night, so Buzza will substitute a harpsichord.
Nisi Dominus is based on Psalm 127 (Vulgate 126), which deals with two areas of our lives that demand the most of our time and cause us the most worry – our work and our family. In His grace, God has provided us with time of rest and relaxation. And he has provided the gift of children. Though the workaholic thinks otherwise, God’s gifts are not acquired by burning the candle at both ends, but by resting in God’s grace.