Cathedral choirs to perform 'The Dream of Gerontius' for Founders Day Concert

Friday, Mar. 10, 2023
By Linda Petersen
Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — The Madeline Choir School will honor all those who have contributed to the school’s development with its annual Founders Day Concert on March 19. Founders Day celebrates the choir school’s first rehearsal, which was held on March 19, 1990.

This year the Cathedral Choristers (composed of The Madeleine Choir School choirs) and the men of the cathedral choir will perform “The Dream of Gerontius Op. 38,” a composition by Sir Edward Elgar. The work sets to music St. John Cardinal Henry Newman’s 1865 poem of the same name. Elgar composed the score in 1900, not long after the cornerstone for the Cathedral of the Madeleine was laid.

“The Dream of Gerontius“ is “one of the most important choral works in the Catholic repertoire,” said Gregory Glenn, the cathedral’s director of music. “It was written in 1865 to depict the journey of the soul through the death and judgment experience. Newman had just converted to Catholicism, and he was revisiting the whole understanding of cleansing needed before entering into the presence of God.

“Elgar clearly said that this was the best of him, that this was his best composition,” Glenn said of “The Dream of Gerontius.”

For the performance, the cathedral choir and orchestra will be under the direction of Kent Tritle, director of music at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, N.Y. Tritle has always wanted to conduct this piece, and “we’re excited about him doing this,” Glenn said. “Having Kent work with our choirs is really, really exciting.”

This year’s guest artists include Christopher Oglsby, an Adler Fellow with the San Francisco Opera, as Gerontius/Soul.

“We’re delighted to offer him this opportunity to do this great work,” Glenn said.  

New York-based mezzo soprano Heather Petrie will perform the role of the Guardian Angel. Bass-baritone Seth Keeton, a University of Utah voice professor, will complete the soloist performances as the priest/angel present at Christ’s agony.

Glenn hopes the public will be “thrilled by this very engaging music and musical setting of a poem that describes something that is universal to all mankind, that they will hear in this beautiful description the love of God for his people,” he said. “This is some of the most moving music that I’ve ever done. I hope they will be captivated by that.”

“The Dream of Gerontius” was last performed in Utah in 2009 for the cathedral’s centennial celebration.

Founders Day Concert passes will be available free to the general public on March 8. Due to copyright constraints the concert will not be livestreamed.

WHAT: The Madeleine Choir School Founders Day Concert

WHEN: Sunday March 19, 8 p.m.

WHERE: The Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, SLC

Free, but passes required. Passes are available to the public at

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