The ROS Presents “Poetry for Peace”

Friday, March 24, 2017
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm  

Hochstein Performance Hall
50 Plymouth Ave N
Rochester, NY 14614

(Rochester, NY– August 8, 2016) In a powerful, hopeful commemoration of the centennial of the U.S. entry into World War I, the Rochester Oratorio Society [ROS] performs Dona Nobis Pacem (“Grant us Peace”), a setting of Walt Whitman poetry composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams, on Friday, March 24, 2017, 7:30 P.M. at the Hochstein Performance Hall, 50 Plymouth Avenue North, in Rochester. Tickets ($25) are available at or through the ROS Office, 585.473.2234.

Joining the ROS are Rochester solo artists of international renown, bass-baritone Jan Opalach and soprano Kearstin Piper Brown. Collaborating in the performance will be the Nazareth College Choir, directed by Dr. Mark Zeigler.

Vaughan Williams’s setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry from Drum Taps, deployed to stunning effect in this 40-minute plea for peace, is the composer’s response to events he witnessed as an ambulance driver beginning in 1915. The U.S. entered the conflict in April, 1917, with declaration of war on Germany.

This project is ROS’s second collaboration with the University of Rochester Humanities Center. Joan Shelley Rubin, Dexter Perkins Professor in the Department of History, is the Ani and Mark Gabrellian Director of the Humanities Center. To engage the community at large in the subject matter in relation to the artworks, Rubin and ROS Artistic Director, Eric Townell, organized a series of book discussions, panels and presentations during the month preceding the ROS performance, hosted and moderated by WXXI Public Broadcasting Evening Drive Host/Producer Mona Seghatoleslami, and one further presentation during April, preceding a second performance of the Vaughan Williams masterwork by the Nazareth College Choir, directed by Mark Zeigler. Members of the Oratorio Society will join the Nazareth ensemble in that concert. A full schedule of the talks may be found here.

To open the program, ROS keyboard collaborator Kevin Nitsch is the soloist for Ernest Bloch’s vibrant Concerto grosso No. 1 for piano and strings. Also featured is Psalm XXIV, a dramatic setting dating from 1916 by the French composer, Lili Boulanger. Frank James Staneck’s ethereal choral benediction, “Learn to love said nature,” a setting of poetry by Ursula Vaughan Williams, closes the program in solace and reassurance.

The Rochester Oratorio Society, the region’s premier large mixed chorus for adults, presents 4-6 performances annually, sings with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and presents the Rochester International Vocal Competition each spring. Information on the ROS and its productions may be found at or by calling the office at (585) 473-2234.