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Vocal recital presents sacred songs from many faiths

Jacquelyn Matava and Samuel Gaskin
Natalia Sun Photography
Jacquelyn Matava and Samuel Gaskin

The Chapel of the Incarnate Word is kicking off its 2023-24 season of Caritas Concerts, with a free concert “Sacred Song,” this Friday. Mezzo-soprano Jacquelyn Matava and organist Samuel Gaskin joined us to talk a bit about the concert, and share some recent recordings, starting with "Dawn," a Hindu-inspired work by Gustav Holst, and culminating with "Pray for Piece" by Francis Poulenc, both of which were recorded in the Chapel and carry its unaccountable aura.

Matava says, "It's a program of great variety," noting there will be pieces for just voice and just organ, as well as both — and will reflect music from many different faiths. A look at the program — Vierne’s "Les Angélus," Holst’s "Vedic Hymns" Book I, selections from Darius Milhaud’s "Poèmes juifs," improvisations, and other works by Purcell, Dove, and more – shows these two have ambition.

And it hasn't gone unnoticed. Matava was just recently named the winner of The American Prize for Women in Art Song for a performance she and Gaskin did last year. (You'll hear a piece from that concert as well in this interview.)

Says Gaskin, "As an organist, a lot of our repertoire is associated with Christianity." But with this program they "took it as a kind of challenge" to branch out. Along with music from the composers listed above, "I also composed a piece, based on a poem of my grandfather, which references Buddhism," he says. You'll get to hear some new music from the talented composer/arranger Gaskin (who arranged the Holst piece as well). "We've really tried to expand the repertoire of what one might expect to hear in a sacred voice-and-organ concert."

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Barry Brake is a composer, jazz and classical pianist who has been a part of San Antonio's music scene for decades. You can find his musings and musical exploits online here: http://barrybrake.com/