graphic for Musco Center for the Arts

LA Master Chorale presents ‘Lagrime di San Pietro’ (Tears of St. Peter)

Hailed by The Los Angeles Times as a ‘major accomplishment for music history,’ the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s impassioned staging of Orlando di Lasso’s Lagrime Di San Pietro (Tears Of St. Peter) comes to Musco Center for one performance only.

Directed by internationally revered stage visionary Peter Sellars and conducted by LAMC Artistic Director and Chapman University alumnus Grant Gershon, the a cappella Renaissance masterpiece becomes an unforgettable concert experience.

For the first time a chorale has memorized Luigi Tansillo’s 75-minutes of intricate, never-repeating poetry, freeing them to perform Sellar’s dramatic movement. This illuminates the story, which depicts the seven stages of grief that St. Peter experienced after denying any knowledge of Jesus. The result is a sweeping, highly emotional interpretation that underscores the work’s fundamental theme of accepting responsibility.

Behind the Masterpiece

This marks Sellars’ first a cappella staging and has been called his most personal work to date. He translates Lagrime through a contemporary lens to underscore its powerful allegory: By taking responsibility for past actions we forge a more resolved and fulfilling future.

“Polyphony of this kind of depth and detail is totally sculptural,” Sellars said, noting that Lagrime was composed just 30 years after the death of Michelangelo, another towering artist of the High Renaissance. “You also get this muscular intensity in Lasso’s writing that is reminiscent of this expressive language we know so well, visually, from Michelangelo.”

Lasso was gravely ill when he wrote Lagrime and knew its music would be the last he composed. He packed every measure with an emotionally charged texture that channeled his pain and remorse into a towering work of beauty. As a result it bursts with significance.

“I would emphasize the emotional and spiritual part of the piece,” added Gershon, who for three years studied under Bill Hall as a Chapman University undergraduate. “Orlando di Lasso chose this text because he knew it would be his last testament, and it seems he poured all of his knowledge and all of his life experience into it, finishing it just three weeks before he passed.”

The Los Angeles Master Chorale is the country’s largest professional chorus and one of Southern California’s most vibrant cultural treasures. A founding resident company of The Music Center and the choir-in-residence at Walt Disney Concert Hall, the Master Chorale presents an annual concert series of choral music from the earliest writings to contemporary compositions, striking a balance between innovation and tradition. It also regularly performs with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Disney Hall and the Hollywood Bowl.

Praised for its definitive performances, the choir is committed to recording the choral repertoire and is featured, with Gershon, on the soundtracks of many major motion pictures. In January, it recorded an upcoming release in Musco Center, marking the first live recording in our auditorium.

“I have to say I feel like Musco Center was made for Lagrime,” said Gershon. “We’re so excited, all of us who have been in the auditorium to hear a concert or perform on stage feel it is absolutely the ideal venue for Lagrime de San Pietro. This is a piece that requires an acoustic with a lot of warmth to it and a beautiful resonance for that a cappellarenaissance style.

“But it also needs the intimacy and the sense of connection with the audience,” he added, “so that we’re not behind a proscenium with a sense of fourth wall but that everybody is really part of the experience together. And … it’ll certainly be a wonderful bit of a homecoming for me.”

This article was released by the Musco Center for the Arts.