Jesse Auditorium to play host to two versions of sacred musical work

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 | 5:34 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Giacomo Puccini’s “Messa di Gloria” and Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria” are what conductor Paul Crabb considers two fantastic studies of contrast.

The Choral Union, University Philharmonic, guest soloists and Crabb will perform the works at Jesse Auditorium on Thursday. The performance is part of the Student Ensemble Concert Series.

If You Go

What: Choral Union: Gloria, French and Italian Style

Where: Jesse Auditorium, MU

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Admission: $15 at the door, $9.50 in advance online at

Both are pieces from the standard repertoire, Crabb, who is director of choral activities at MU, said. “Messa di Gloria” by Puccini, who composed "La Boheme" and "Tosca," is an Italian operatic piece from 1880 that is "full of drama," Crabb said.

"It is so fun to sing because it is so majestic and full," said Kaitlin Foley, a soprano in the Choral Union. "Puccini's and Poulenc's pieces are so completely different that even physically singing them is different."

The MU sophomore said she is more careful with Poulenc's "Gloria."

"It's harder to learn the notes because the intervals are ambiguous and hard to predict," she said. "I've been so focused on learning each note that I've been too busy to hear it come together as a whole until now."

“Gloria" is more “tongue-in-cheek," Crabb said. “Poulenc liked to tease people. ‘Gloria’ is a sacred text he (Poulenc) performs tongue-in-cheek with a smile on his face.”

When the French composer was told his pieces were not sacred, Crabb said, Poulenc answered that he drew his inspiration from the monks he saw playing football and the religious frescoes with people’s tongues sticking out.

Although the piece is different than Puccini’s, it is "attractive and interesting to hear," Crabb said. “People will think it’s like the melody they’ve heard in a French cabaret or in a cafe.”

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