The featured piece on the Chorale’s March concert, Response to Strife, is Henryk Górecki’s Miserere Op. 5, a 35-minute a cappella work.
The featured piece on the Chorale’s March concert, Response to Strife, is Henryk Górecki’s Miserere Op. 5, a 35-minute a cappella work.

HILLSBORO — In his second concert as the Oregon Chorale’s new artistic director, Jason Sabino asks the audience and the Chorale to discover the incredible beauty that can come from great suffering.

The featured piece on the Chorale’s March concert, Response to Strife, is Henryk Górecki’s Miserere Op. 5, a 35-minute a cappella work. Miserere was inspired by the Trade Union revolt against the Communist government in the Polish town of Bydgoszcz in 1981. Górecki captures the despair and pain of the citizens as well as the solidarity and triumph felt by the millions of Poles who protested together. Although their protests were met with violence and repression, the Polish citizens persevered and resisted, sustained by their solidarity. The protests led to massive political reform in their country and, eventually, the fall of communism. “Górecki, using only the white keys on the piano and just five words of Latin, was able to capture these events perfectly,” said Sabino. “It’s a truly powerful piece that tells an even more powerful story of how a country and its people overcame oppression. It’s a story worth telling and worth singing about.”

To help us gain a deeper understanding of the events in Poland and the significance of the Miserere, members from the Polish community in Portland will share the dramatic history of and riveting personal stories about the Solidarity movement.

Other pieces in the program are also responses to strife and challenge, from contemplative to joyful. Eliza Gilkyson’s “Requiem” is dedicated to those whose homes and loved ones were taken away by natural disasters, evoking a matriarchal deity in Mother Mary from Roman Catholicism to plead for comfort and peace. “All My Trials” is Norman Luboff’s setting of a Bahamian folk song that became one of the anthems of the American civil rights movement. And Dominick DiOrio’s “You Do Not Walk Alone” serves as a partner to the Miserere with its message that together, we as a people and as a society can overcome oppression, strife and hardship.

Performances of Response to Strife: Górecki’s Miserere are on Saturday, March 18, at 7:00 p.m. at Living Savior Lutheran Church (8740 SW Sagert St., Tualatin) and Sunday, March 19, at 2:00 p.m. at St. Matthew Catholic Church (447 SE 3rd Ave., Hillsboro).