Marshall Miles Interviews Jonathan F. Babbitt: The Litchfield County Choral Union Offers the Fauré and Duruflé Requiems at Concert (July 29th, 3pm) on the Stage of the Music Shed, Erected by Ellen Battell Stoeckel and her Husband in 1901 on Their Norfolk Estate

The Litchfield County Choral Union, Jonathan F. Babbitt, Music Director, will offer both the Fauré and Duruflé Requiem at 3 pm on July 29th concert.

The Choral Union, founded in 1899, rehearses and performs on the stage of the Music Shed erected for the group by Ellen Battell Stoeckel and her husband in 1901 on their estate in Norfolk, Connecticut. 

The concert will feature organist David Enlow, soprano Alexandra Whitfield, mezzo-soprano Allison Messier, and baritone David Tinervia.

Jonathan F. Babbitt holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale University and the Yale School of Music, where he was Director of the Yale Freshman Chorus and Associate Director of the Yale Glee Club under the tutelage of Fenno Heath.  Active as a teacher, clinician, conductor, recitalist, adjudicator and composer, Mr. Babbitt has appeared across the United States, Canada and Europe as both organist and conductor, performing repertoire from the Renaissance to the contemporary.  His compositions have premiered at the prestigious International Contemporary Music Festival in Bonn, Germany, and at Connecticut and Rhode Island Music Educator’s Association events here in the United States.

Babbitt has more than two dozen recordings to his credit, including CDs of War Requiem by Benjamin Britten, the Verdi Requiem, Mozart’s Grand Mass, Litanies of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar, Requiem, and assorted shorter works, and three CDs of a capella part songs with the Chamber Singers of Swanhurst Chorus, which he conducted for 26 years.

A life-long church musician, Babbitt cut his musical teeth as an 8-year-old boy soprano in Litchfield, Connecticut.  His first position as Organist came at the age of 14; 2015 marked his 40th anniversary as a professional liturgical musician, and he remains an active and involved member of the American Guild of Organists.

Mr. Babbitt holds concurrent appointments as Director of Choral Activities and Coordinator of Applied Music Studies at Mitchell College in New London, Connecticut, Music Director of the Litchfield County Choral Union at the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in Norfolk, Connecticut, Music Director of the Greater New Bedford Choral Society in New Bedford, Massachusetts, Music Director of the Westport Point Methodist Church in Westport Point, Massachusetts, and Artistic Director of the New England Sacred Camerata, based in Adamsville, Rhode Island, where he also maintains Sakonnet Music, a private teaching and recording enterprise

Organist David Enlow, hailed for his “enormous virtuosity” (Stuttgarter Zeitung), “arresting performances” (The American Organist) and his “nimble accounts full of singing detail” (Choir & Organ), is a concert organist and church musician who performs and teaches across North America and Europe. His recordings include Pater Seraphicus, a three-disc set of the Franck organ works, Piano á l’orgue, an album of piano transcriptions, andBach on Park Avenue, recorded at New York’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola.

Mr. Enlow is organist and choir master at the Church of the Resurrection in New York, where he directs a professional choir that offers over fifty settings of the mass each season, often works of Mozart and Haydn with orchestra. He is also a member of the organ faculty of the Juilliard School, where he is responsible for the service-playing component of the curriculum. Active in the American Guild of Organists (AGO), Mr. Enlow is a past Dean of the AGO’s New York City Chapter, has served on its national professional certification committee, and continues on its board of examiners. His work in early music includes serving as organist of the Clarion Orchestra and as répétiteur of the Clarion Choir, both highly acclaimed ensembles. Mr. Enlow regularly offers lectures, workshops, and concerts for chapter, regional, and national gatherings of the AGO and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Notes on the Fauré

Fauré’s reasons for composing his Requiem are uncertain. One possible impetus may have been the death of his father in 1885, and his mother’s deathtwo years later, on New Year’s Eve 1887. However, by the time of his mother’s death he had already begun the work, about which he later declared, “My Requiem wasn’t written for anything – for pleasure, if I may call it that!” The earliest composed music included in the Requiem is the Libera me, which Fauré wrote in 1877 as an independent work.

In 1924 the Requiem, in its full orchestral version, was performed at Fauré’s own funeral. It was not performed in the United States until 1931, at a student concert at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. It was first performed in England in 1936.

Notes on the Duruflé

The SATB choir and organ version of Maurice Duruflé‘s Requiem, Op. 9 was published in 1948 by the French firm Durand. It had been commissioned six years earlier under the collaborationist Vichy regime, but Duruflé was still working on it in 1944 when the regime collapsed and in fact did not complete it until the year of publication. The composer dedicated the work to the memory of his father.

Nearly all the thematic material in the work comes from chant lines taken from the Gregorian Missa pro Defunctis.  Like many liturgical requiems, Duruflé’s omits the Gradual and the Tract. The Dies irae text, perhaps the most famous portion of the Requiem Mass, is also not set. Duruflé’s omission of this text and inclusion of others (Pie JesuLibera me, and In Paradisum, from the burial service, mirroring Fauré), makes the composition calmer and more meditative than some other settings.

Tickets are $25 ($20 seniors and students) and are available on the the LCCU website,

by calling 401-864-9009,

or at the door.


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