Cambridge Composer to Premiere Intricate New Sacred Work in Boston

Composer Rachel Burckardt, courtesy image
rjb piano

Prolific 8-movement requiem features orchestra, choir, renowned tenor Ciarán Nagle and select soloists – Longtime Cambridge-based sacred musician and composer Rachel Burckardt, together with Wood Harbor Orchestra, conducted by Elijah Langille, and Mount Auburn Choir, premiere the new sacred work “Mount Auburn, a Requiem in d minor,” on Saturday, October 22, 8 pm, at Saint Cecelia Parish, 18 Belvidere Street, Boston.  The concert program also features several of Burckardt’s other orchestral and vocal works, with solo performing artists, including Ciarán Nagle, tenor vocalist, Diana Fischer, piano, Lily Marie Antonini, mezzo soprano, Alex Meisner, alto saxophone, and Rachel Burckardt, piano and guitar.

“Mount Auburn, Requiem in d minor,” the concert’s title work, reflects Burckardt’s vision of a requiem, traditionally composed and performed as a mass for the repose of souls who have passed.  Her inspiration for this composition to take this form stems partly from the scene in the movie “Amadeus,” when Mozart is dictating his mass for the dead, and partly from her experience that requiems feel a bit unsatisfactory, as though they miss the point. 

“In my mind, the setting should deeply reflect the life experience of loss and separation, with all its wild range of deep, unrelenting emotions – deep sadness, unexpected uncertainty about the future, anger, unexplained tears, resolving to the sense of acceptance, resignation, and quiet peace,” shares Burckardt.  “Overlaying these emotions is the mysticism of mortality and eternity, relevant to this work.”

Composer Rachel Burckardt, courtesy image

Each fall, around All Souls Day (el Día de los Muertos), Burckardt strolls the beautiful landscape of Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, which inspired the title of the featured work.  Experiencing autumn’s beauty while contemplating mortality and eternity, she recollects her favorite verses from Psalm 90, “teach us to number our days that we may learn your wisdom” and “for a thousand years to you … is like the passing of a single day.”  In essence, contemplating this final moment intersects the diverse emotions that accompany death.  “Mount Auburn” begins and ends with stark instrumentation, straining at tonality to encompass loss, sorrow, and the spirituality of mortality.  “Between both ends, the listener is drawn into an emotional journey expressed in the dynamics, rhythm, lyrics, and texture woven into the work’s eight movements,” says Burckardt.

Other works on the “Mount Auburn” program include “Heal Me,” “Ascendance,” and “Ave Maria,” all compositions by Burckardt, performed by the orchestra, ornamented by featured soloists, including Diana Fischer, piano, Lily Marie Antonini, mezzo soprano, Alex Meisner, alto saxophone, and Burckardt herself, guitar and piano.

Rachel Burckardt is a prolific composer whose works explore sacred and liturgical music, jazz, electronic music, and orchestral works. She has served as a church musician for more than 45 years and currently serves on the Saint Cecilia Parish music ministry and the American Guild of Organists.  A longtime instrumentalist, chorister, composer, and director, she also previously served as co-director of the parish’s contemporary ensemble. As a performing artist, she sings with the Boston Archdiocesan Festival Choir. Burckardt has released six albums featuring her original compositions and improvisations. The studio recording of “Mount Auburn” will be her next album release.

Rachel Burckardt, composer, courtesy image

The newly formed Wood Harbor Orchestra makes their first public performance at this concert, under the direction of Elijah Langille, conductor. The ensemble includes professional musicians along with students from local music schools. Wood Harbor Orchestra is dedicated to the performance of works by local composers, focused on underrepresented groups in classical music, including women, people of color, and those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

Tickets to “Mount Auburn, Requiem in d minor” are general admission $25, students and seniors $8.50, preferred seating $50, available on EventBrite, or at the door.  Sponsor donation options range from $100 – $1000.  Reduced-rate parking for $14 is available at The Hynes Auditorium Garage (located at 50 Dalton Street between Bukowski Tavern and Summer Shack). To obtain the discount, ask a concert greeter for a chaser ticket which can be used at the garage’s exit gate machine.  Alternate paid parking is available at the Prudential garage. The church building is fully accessible by elevator at both the street level entrance on Belvidere Street, and at the entrance on the corner of St. Cecilia and Scotia Streets.

For more information about Rachel Burckardt, visit

Elijah Langille, conductor, courtesy image

About Elijah Langille, conductor

Elijah Langille (He/Him) is the Program Director and Chief Conductor of South Shore Conservatory (SSC) Youth Orchestras. He has sung with Tanglewood Festival Chorus, performing at venues including Boston’s Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, and the Koussevitzky Music Shed, featuring prominent conductors such as Andris Nelsons and Keith Lockhart. Langille has been invited, in multiple opportunities, to conduct the Moravian Philharmonic in the Czech Republic, working with Russian conductor Alim Shakh. He continues to travel around the world sharpening his musicianship.

As the organist of Christ Church Parish, Plymouth, he oversees instrumental activities consistently bringing musicians together of different styles and backgrounds to create unique experiences. Langille also guest conducts throughout New England, conducting the Parkway Concert Orchestra in 2018, Junior Southeastern Massachusetts School Bandmasters Association (SEMSBA) Orchestra in 2017, and the Senior SEMSBA Orchestra in 2016.

Continuing his conducting education, Langille studies with Michael Ellis Ingram, the Korrepetitor, and Kapellmeister of the Mecklenburg State Theater in Schwerin, Germany. He is a graduate of Gordon College and Boston University, and currently serves as the orchestra director at Barnstable High School. 

Ciarán Nagle, renowned tenor vocalist, courtesy image

About Ciarán Nagle, tenor

Ciarán Nagle performs around the globe as the founding member and producer of the world renowned Three Irish Tenors and as a solo artist. He has had the privilege of singing the American National Anthem at the Heinz Stadium, sharing the stage with Neil Diamond and receiving many accolades such as the Keys to Jersey City and a Certificate of recognition for his contribution to the arts from the Governor of Pennsylvania, to name but a few. Nagle trained in the College of Music Dublin and the Royal Academy of Music Dublin. He became a member of the National Chamber Choir of Ireland, and under the baton of Sir Robert Shaw, he performed at NYC’s Carnegie Hall in productions of Haydn’s “Creation” and “Seasons”. Nagle worked extensively with Opera Ireland before being cast as the lead singer of the international sensation Riverdance, with whom he toured for two years, after which he returned to Dublin to found the Three Irish Tenors. Nagle and his wife Tara Novak formed a contemporary Irish folk band, Ishnain 2009 and perform regularly at festivals, performing arts centres and with symphony orchestras throughout the United States. Nagle is an active participant in the global Irish community and is a proud member of the Board of Directors of Boston’s Irish Cultural Centre. He is a frequent guest lecturer on Irish culture, the music industry, and the business of performance.

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