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In Paradisum: The Healing Power of Heaven/South Dakota Chorale
In Paradisum/South Dakota Chorale

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Program and Notes Reviews

In Pardisum: The Healing Power of Heaven
South Dakota Chorale
Jesse Eschbach, organ
Brian Schmidt, conductor

Winner: Grammy for Best Classical Producer, Blanton Alspaugh

In their debut recording, the South Dakota Chorale performs the rarely recorded “organ version” of Duruflé’s Requiem, using the French-influenced Bedient organ of First Congregational Church in Sioux Falls, SD.

Brian A. Schmidt is a conductor and composer whose award-winning works have been sung by many choirs across the country.

SUPER-AUDIO/CD hybrid! This is a Hybrid Multi-channel SACD, which plays on any CD player. However, when played on an SACD player, the listener will hear the exceptional audio resolution that only a DSD recording can provide.


Giuseppe Sarti: Nïñe sílï ñebésnïya (Now the Powers of Heaven) (5:33)
Traditional American, arr. Gary Ruschman: Run On (God’s Gonna Cut You Down) (3:20)
Spiritual, arr. Normal Luboff: Deep River (3:29)
Spiritual, arr. Moses Hogan: The Battle of Jericho (2:27)
Maurice Duruflé: Requiem, op. 9

Program Notes

The Italian opera composer, Giuseppe Sarti (1729-1802), moved to Russia to teach composition, but became influenced by the musical traditions of Russian Orthodox Church. In Nïñe sílï ñebésnïya (“Now the Powers of Heaven”), Sarti combines the sweetness of older compositional techniques (stile antico) with virtuosic vocal fireworks that vividly paint the power of heaven.

Now the Powers of Heaven serve invisibly with us;
lo, the King of Glory enters.
Lo, the mystical sacrifice is upborne, fulfilled.
Let us draw near in faith and love
and become communicants of life eternal.
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
—from the Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts

Run on (“God’s Gonna Cut You Down”) is a traditional American folk song that speaks of the temptations and pitfalls of life, and the threat of God’s judgment. It has been arranged to fit many popular music genres, and sung by artists like Johnny Cash, Odetta, Elvis Presley, the Blind Boys or Alabama. It is arranged here for choir by Gary Ruschman (b. 1973).

American spirituals often speak to goal of reaching heaven and experiencing its healing powers. Deep River in this classic arrangement by Norman Luboff (1917-1987) expresses the desire for deliverance from the trials of this life and the ultimate healing of the life to come, symbolized by crossing the river Jordan.

The Battle of Jericho recounts one of the Bible’s great stories of the power of heaven focused through the actions of the faithful Joshua. Moses Hogan’s (1957-2003) dynamic arrangement of this familiar song shifts into emotional overdrive to reveal the unrelenting energy of the battle scene that day.

Maurice Duruflê (1902-1986) sang in the Rouen Cathedral Choir as a child and later studied organ with Charles Tournemire, Cesar Franck’s successor at St- Clotilde in Paris. In 1920 he entered the Paris Conservatory, eventually winning first prizes in organ, harmony, piano accompaniment and composition. In 1929, he became titular organist of St- tienne-du-Mont in Paris, where he stayed the rest of his life.

Duruflé’s Requiem Opus 9 is one of the great musical masterpieces of the 20th century, but it is unusual in several ways. There are three versions of the work, each with a different nstrumental accompaniment. One version is for organ alone (heard on this recording), another for organ and string orchestra with optional trumpets, harp and timpani, and one or organ and full orchestra. Of these, the version with organ accompaniment alone is the least-often recorded, but demonstrates Durufle’s complete mastery of orchestration at the organ. The 2008 organ by Gene Bedient at Sioux Falls First Congregational Church has many French Romantic colors, employed to great effect in this performance.

Durufle’s recommendations for soloists are also unusual. The use of soloists is sparse, and there are indications in the score that the Baritone “solo” could be sung by the choir. The combination of instrumental accompaniments and soloist possibilities has led to a wide variety of performances of this work. Musically, Duruflé set ancient chant melodies into modern harmonies, particularly the Gregorian chants from “Mass for the Dead”, thus achieving a musical work that weaves together centuries of musical traditions. The Requiem’s most powerful attribute being the enveloping sonorities, which encompass the entire spectrum of human emotion and experience. From thundering depictions of the Day of Judgment to beautiful pianissimo prayers for light and salvation, the powerful experience of this music has brought many a sense of consolation, healing, peace, and a hope that “angels will lead us into paradise”—as the Requiem’s last musical movement states with powerful and Heavenly reassurance.

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