Bethlehem Church Benefit for Typhoon Victims: A Requiem for Those Lost

Ann Arbor, MI, November 27, 2013 --( On Sunday, December, 1, at 8:00 PM, over 80 musicians will perform a stunningly beautiful requiem in the sanctuary of Bethlehem United Church of Christ on Fourth Street, in Ann Arbor. This performance will have a single mission: to raise money for those who survived the most powerful typhoon in history. Choir director and University of Michigan Ph.D. student Arianne Abela, who has family still residing on the islands, has brought together in just two weeks a broad repertoire of professional and amateur talent to perform Maurice Durufle’s Requiem.

While requiems are traditionally written in response to death and mourning, Ms. Abela noted that in Durufle’s Requiem "… there is a great focus on faith, hope, and peace in this beautiful work." Durufle, a 20th century composer, uses elements of Gregorian chant in his work, also creating a sense of tranquility. "Durufle wrote this piece in memory of his father. There is a tenderness and intimacy in this work that is hard to explain and can only be experienced. It is a highly moving work and as soon as I thought about the tragedy in the Philippines, this was the first musical work that came to my mind," Ms. Abela said.

What is driving Ms. Abela to create a fund raiser on this scale, and at this rate of speed? She reflected on how difficult it was, emotionally, to be unable to help those in need in a more direct, physical manner. "The only way I know…to bring people together is through music, and so that is what we’re doing today," Ms. Abela said.

The performance on Sunday, December 1, will feature acclaimed soprano soloist Antonina Chekhovskaya (, pianists Dylan Perez and Jon King, and bassist Nicholas Davis. Musicians from churches across the city, students at the University of Michigan, as well as both professional and amateur musicians will be performing. Singers from all over Ann Arbor will also be appearing.

The goal of the concert, ultimately, is to raise money for those in the Philippines who have been left with nothing – not even medicine to help heal those who should easily survive minor injuries. The Church World Service, an international aid organization with a stellar reputation, will be collecting donations at the concert at several stations.

The sheer complexity of organizing this many musicians to perform a piece such as the Requiem has been occasionally daunting. "Pulling this piece together in two rehearsals and over two weeks is a miracle in itself," Ms. Abela remarked. "It really shows how gracious and powerful humanity is when we can work together."

Media Contact: Mary Jean Raab
423 S. Fourth Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Bethlehem United Church of Christ
Mary Jean Raab
734 665 6149