After 30 years as music director for choral ensemble Schola Cantorum Silicon Valley, Gregory Wait is retiring. For his swan song, Wait will conduct “Ein deutsches Requiem” by Johannes Brahms in a free concert scheduled 8 p.m. Friday at Stanford Memorial Church.
“Ein deutsches Requiem” translates to “A German Requiem,” but, according to Wait, Brahms would have preferred naming it “A Human Requiem.” Based on texts the composer chose from Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible, the piece expresses Brahms’ own experiences of grief and consolation.
“In his own way, Brahms was grieving for his mentor, Robert Schumann, and his mother, who died while he was composing the piece,” Wait said. “It’s a requiem and, by definition, a piece of music celebrating or commemorating those who have died. But its main objective is to console those who are left behind and still living.”
Composed of seven movements, with solos for soprano and baritone, the 75-voice choir will perform the piece in its original German, accompanied by a 40-piece orchestra.
Wait also served for 30 years as choir director at Stanford Memorial Church and was named Billie Bennett Achilles Director of Vocal Studies on the Stanford University Music Department faculty, where he will continue teaching for one more year.
Wait offered his thanks for the support he has received throughout the years.
“I want to acknowledge all the wonderful support of our singers, board and donors over the years, and the audience who has encouraged our programming and performances,” he said. “I’m pleased that our people have stuck with us and helped us broaden our appeal.”
That tradition will continue under new conductor Buddy James, Wait said, who has “fantastic ideas for programming.” Schola Cantorum’s mission, Wait added, will be in good hands.
For more information, visit scholacantorum.org.