Dessoff Choirs to Present North American Premiere of ‘Duruflé and Lusitano’

By Afton Wooten

(Credit: Stephanie Berger)

The Dessoff Choirs will open its 2022-23 season with the North American premiere of “Duruflé and Lusitano.”

The concert will feature music by the first known Black composer to be published, Vicente Lusitano (1520-61), and the last Impressionist composer, Maurice Duruflé (1902-86). Dessoff’s Music Director Malcolm J. Merriweather will conduct the choirs along with soloists mezzo-soprano Lucia Bradford and organist David Enlow.

The program starts off with Lusitano’s motets and madrigals published in 1551. This is followed by a reduced version of Duruflé’s “Requiem.” The work dedicated to his father’s memory explores chant for both choir and solo voice with organ.

In regard to the elusive work of Lusitano, Merriweather explains, “Despite the quality of his music and his place in history, Lusitano’s works remain very rarely performed, if at all. This neglect is another example of a persistent pattern in the history of classical music wherein Black composers encounter prejudice and disenfranchisement. The Dessoff Choirs is honored to play a small role in maximizing Lusitano’s achievements and introducing his music to the classical canon’s collective memory.”

“Duruflé and Lusitano” will take place at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan on Nov. 5 at 4 p.m. Masks and proof of vaccination against COVID-19 are required for audience members.