For a man who has spent the past half-century leading the art of musical performance, it’s fitting that Norman Scribner’s final concert should celebrate life’s own rhythms. The founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington will conduct his farewell piece on Sunday, April 22, directing his beloved choir, The National Symphony Orchestra, and guest soloists Twyla Robinson and Christopheren Nomura in Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem.
Although “requiem” typically refers to a Mass for the dead, Brahms’ “A German Requiem” stands instead as a choral testament to the living. With cyclical themes of rebirth and triumph over death, Ein Deutsches Requiem is an apt final bow for someone whose lengthy career — including studies at the Peabody Conservatory, teaching positions at George Washington and American universities, collaborations with Leonard Bernstein, and an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from the Virginia Theological Seminary — is drawing to a close, giving way to a next great venture.
Just what form that chapter might take is — much like the cosmic themes underlying Requiem — unclear. What remains uncontested is the opinion of those like Neale Perl, president and CEO of the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS). Scribner, he said, “will be greatly missed.”