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A shining Mother’s Day courtesy of San Juan Symphony Chamber Singers

The San Juan Symphony Chamber Singers rehearse their Mother’s Day program in St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. (Courtesy of Paul Boyer)
Performance will be held Sunday at St. Mark’s

A shimmering new work, “Sunrise Mass,” by Norwegian American composer Ola Gjeilo (yay-lo) will be the centerpiece of the San Juan Symphony Chamber Singers concert on Sunday at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

“This 21st-century work takes us from an ethereal pre-dawn to the joy of sunrise followed by a frenetic pace (The City),” said Elizabeth Crawford, artistic director and founder of the ensemble. “And finally, we find our true selves in Identity and The Ground.”

The composer uses traditional Latin text from the Roman Mass, Crawford said, from Kyrie through the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. And yet, Gjeilo illuminates secular scenes. The style is anything but conventional.

If you go

WHAT: “Sunrise: Songs for Mother’s Day,” a musical program by The San Juan Symphony Chamber Singers, directed by Elizabeth Crawford.

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: St. Mark’s Episcopal church, 910 East Third Ave.

TICKETS: Adults $24, students $5. Available at durangoconcerts.com or at the door.

MORE INFORMATION: Email sjschambersingers@gmail.com or call 799-0148.

“The Mass is described as lyrical, lush, evocative and stirring,” she said. “It is one of the most beautifully intense works we have ever performed. The strings are not just accompaniment but are integrated with the chorus to arouse the emotions of each movement.”

The Mass is scored for mixed chorus and chamber orchestra, so Crawford invited eight San Juan Symphony musicians, “the most we can fit in.” The orchestra includes violinists Richard Silvers, Maya Quackenbush, Cathy Pope and JR Smith; violists Lara Aase and Joe Pope; cellist Steve White; and double bassist David Homer.

Gjeilo, who turned 46 on May 5, lives in the U.S. but seems to be deeply Nordic in his love of nature. His website, https://olagjeilo.com, features “Sunrise,” as well as other works inspired by nature: “The North,” “Autumn” and “Northern Lights.”

The concert opener will be the jolly “Now is the Month of Maying,” by Thomas Morley. And in another stroke of creative programming, Crawford has included a duet by Gemma Kavanagh and Tom Burris. They will sing the beloved Irish folk song “Danny Boy.”

In addition, Crawford has adapted Stuart Stotts’ “Music in My Mother’s House” for mixed choir and an a cappella arrangement of another beloved tune: “I Can See Clearly Now,” by the 1970s crooner Johnny Nash.

Individual tickets may be purchased at the door, even if the website says sold out, Crawford said. “We usually have enough tickets for sale, first come first served.”

Elizabeth Crawford

Artistic director and founder of the San Juan Symphony Chamber Singers, Elizabeth Crawford has an extensive musical history. At Columbia University, she studied voice, flute, piccolo, music theory and conducting. She has performed as a professional in musical organizations from San Francisco to Sydney. She has also pursued a parallel career in business. She holds MBA and CFA degrees and has retired from investment portfolio management.

In 2002, Crawford and her family moved to Durango. She immediately immersed herself in local music as a singer with the Durango Choral Society and as a director of choirs at several churches. Founder of the SJS Chamber Singers, Crawford also plays flute in the Southwest Civic Winds.

Judith Reynolds is an arts journalist and member of the American Theatre Critics Association.