It’s that time of year again, when the days get shorter, the air blows colder and fall colors surround us with wonder and beauty as the leaves put on their grandest show of the year before dropping dead to the ground. Nature’s own death has always been a sobering reminder of our own mortality, celebrated by the Roman Catholic Church for centuries as All Saint’s or All Hallow’s Day on November 1 (October 31 is Hallow’s evening, or Hallowe’en) and All Soul’s Day or in Hispanic culture, the Day of the Dead (November 2). Bella Voce will anticipate All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in a program called “The End: Requiem Aeternam,” with a century-spanning concert of a cappella death music that includes Spanish Renaissance composer Cristobal Morales’ 1544 “Missa pro Defunctis, a grand five-voice polyphonic setting of the Roman Catholic Latin Requiem Mass which was used for funerals as well as on All Saint’s and All Soul’s Day throughout cathedrals of the New World in Guatemala, Peru and Mexico. The Mass includes Morales’ setting of the famous “Dies Irae” that terrifyingly portrays the horrors of the Final Judgment awaiting those outside of God’s graces (it was dropped as being too harsh by Vatican II). The second half of the concert comprises two works by twentieth-century British composer Herbert Howells: his haunting 1936 “Requiem,” written after the death of his 9-year-old son from polio and made up of comforting and optimistic psalm text settings, and his 1963 choral motet written for the Washington Cathedral memorial service for assassinated President John F. Kennedy, “Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing,” which takes on new poignancy with the recent passing of his brother, Massachusetts Senator Edward “Ted” M. Kennedy. Artistic director Andrew Lewis conducts. (Dennis Polkow)
October 17, St. James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron, 7:30pm; (Next week:) 7:30 p.m. October 24, Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W. Division, River Forest; 4 p.m. October 25, Immanuel Lutheran Church, 616 Lake, Evanston; (312)479-1096; $15-$38.