The Maine Music Society will present the Androscoggin Chorale, professional soloists and pianist Bridget Convey in performances of Charles Gounod’s sacred trilogy, “Mors et Vita.”

The concert will be at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 14, at Portland’s Woodfords Congregational Church;p and at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 15, in Lewiston’s Franco-AmericanHeritage Center at St. Mary’s.

Today’s audiences best know Gounod as a lyrical composer of stage dramas such as “Faust” and “Romeo et Juliette.” Yet he devoted both the early and the final years of his career to sacred music. Living in London during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, he acquired a taste for the oratorio tradition of Handel that was nourished and extended by Mendelssohn. There, Gounod conceived and began a vast trilogy on the Redemption that became an instant and long-lasting favorite.

“Mors et Vita” continued that success. The text of the first part is essentially the liturgy of the Requiem Mass. Parts two and three are drawn entirely from the Bible. The composer wrote, “It will perhaps be asked why, in the title, I have placed death before life. It is because in the order of eternal things death is only the end of that existence which dies each day. But it is the first moment, the birth, of that which dies no more.”

“Mors et Vita” was Gounod’s last major composition. As one would expect, it is filled with rich harmonic language and fervent expression. It is a vast conception of such universal feelings as sorrow and anguish from loss by death, yearning for a better life, dread of righteous judgment, trusting faith in divine love, the callous call of the final trumpet and the happiness of the blessed.

Soloists Danielle Vayenas, Jennifer Hansen, Richard Gammon and Peter Allen are all highly acclaimed artists who have performed often with the Androscoggin Chorale. Convey, the pianist, has performed as soloist and ensemble musician throughout the United States, including concerts in New York’s Lincoln Center and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.

Advance tickets are $15 for adults and $14 for seniors; at the door tickets will be $17.50. Student tickets are half-price, and children 12 and under are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Tickets are available at Lewiston-Auburn Hannaford and Shaw’s supermarkets, Mr. Paperback and Nellie’s Music, Lewiston; and Starbird Music, Portland; or call the Maine Music Society at 782-1403; or visit

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