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International Festival of Sacred Contemporary Music

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The latest venture of Lyric Opera composer-in-residence Bruce Saylor and his mezzo-soprano wife Constance Beavon is this two-day showcase, organized with the Italian psychoanalyst/composer Sandro Gindro and the Italian Cultural Institute, of works that try to rekindle spiritual fervor in our increasingly agnostic times. Saturday's program is choral and orchestral. Included are Saylor's Jubilate and The Star Song, both written for soprano Jessye Norman; Ma tovu for chorus and organ by his mentor Hugo Weisgall; God's Grandeur for mezzo-soprano, chorus, and orchestra by Donald York; and Virgilio Mortari's Planctus Mariae (1986). Likely to be more freewheeling is the Sunday chamber concert, featuring works by two of Italy's renowned teachers and avant-gardists: Inni sacri by Goffredo Petrassi (1942) and Preghiera di Giovanni by Sylvano Bussotti (1948). Also included are ex-Chicagoan James Dashow's Songs From a Spiral Tree; Gindro's timely Prayer for the Innocents: In Memory of Chicago's Children; an intriguing new work by Roosevelt University's Patricia Morehead that involves the lighting of candies; and Piera Pistono's Preghiera. Saylor has also rounded up a number of impressive local performers: soprano Ann Donaldson, baritone David Holloway, flutist Lauren Weiss, harpist Lucia Bova, and organist Keith Griggs. The ad hoc Festival Orchestra of Saint James will be led by Barbara Schubert, and the Morning Choir of Fourth Presbyterian Church by Morgan Simmons. Saturday, 8 PM, and Sunday, 4 PM, Episcopal Cathedral of Saint James, 59 E. Huron; 787-7360.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Micah Marty.

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