Peace and Reconciliation
2020 / Spring Hill Music
Review by Kathy Parsons
Michael Hoppe’s Peace and Reconciliation is an album that offers us all a musical refuge from the fear and uncertainties of the present time - and for any time, really. When Hoppe’ recorded his Requiem in 2005, it was intended to be a demo of sorts for an eventual SATB choral arrangement. Two vocalists and an acoustic quintet performed the music along with Hoppe’ playing piano and keyboards. A masterpiece of contemporary classical music in its own right, the album was released in 2006. In the liner notes of this new album, Hoppe’ explains: “In 2018, as a result of an extraordinary family discovery, I went ahead and hired master arranger Richard Bronskill to arrange all eight movements of my Requiem, now titled Requiem for Peace & Reconciliation for an SATB choir with string quartet. But I still had no idea how I could have the piece performed, let alone, recorded. Until a miracle happened….” That miracle started to unfold in early 2019 when Hoppe’ was invited to perform at The Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona, AZ by Ryan Holder, the founding Artistic Director of the Sedona Academy of Chamber Singers and musical director for the church. Hoppe’ mentioned his newly-arranged Requiem and two other shorter SATB pieces he’d composed and asked if Holder would like to look them over. Not only did Holder want to perform all three works, he wanted to record them with his 40-voice choir and the Tetra String Quartet. Hoppe learned later that the whole recording session had been underwritten by two members of the congregation who had been longtime fans of his music. It’s an amazing story about an amazing album! (I’ll let you read the liner notes to discover what Hoppe’s “extraordinary family discovery” was, but I can assure you that it’s an equally compelling and poignant story.)
Dedicated to Hoppe’s parents, the first eight tracks are the Requiem itself. The order of the movements is the same as on the original album, but the playing times are different. As a choral work, the music sounds much different from the earlier recording which was done with two voices rather than forty. Both albums are breathtaking, but the newer recording is how Michael Hoppe has always envisioned the work, and he calls it “a dream come true.” The lyrics are sung in Latin (with English translations in the album’s liner notes). The last two pieces are “Safe To Port” and “I Am the Moon” (co-written with poet/lyricist David George). Although they are secular, they suit the album perfectly and bring it to a peaceful close.
I should mention that the CD package includes the story of how the recording came to be on two panels of the jacket as well as a 16-page booklet that tells the story of Hoppe’s discovery of a “dark secret” his family kept hidden until recently. The booklet also contains photos, the song lyrics, Hoppe’s bio, histories of the musicians and choir director, Hoppe’s discography, and an “in memoriam” section. It’s a beautiful package!
Michael Hoppe’ has been one of my very favorite artists for a long time now, and Peace and Reconciliation is one of his most beautiful as well as most personal albums to date. I give it my highest recommendation! It is available from Amazon and iTunes as well as the streaming sites.
March 27, 2020