When Mary Gay Craig, director of the Reston Chorale, died in an automobile accident last November, she had been organizing a program of choral works by women composers. That program, presented in concert last night and repeated tonight at the Reston Community Center, has become a tribute to Craig. One work scheduled for a world premiere in the concert is now dedicated to her memory: the eight-movement "Requiem" by Lynn Steele, written for the women's chorus and accompanied by English handbells. It was partly done, and dedicated to "Iva Dee Hiatte, the director of the Smith College Glee Club," who died in 1980, when Craig asked Steele to complete it for this program. Now, it is dedicated to both choral directors. "I wish she had been able to hear and conduct the work instead of it having become her requiem," says Steele.
Another world premiere on the program is the "Cantata on Psalm 139" by Washington composer Bertha Terry Donahue, who began wondering about God as a child and has not stopped. "I can remember as a young girl asking my teacher if God had a sense of humor," Donahue says, "and she answered me, 'Well, He has a sense of proportion.' "
Donahue says her cantata is for soprano, mixed chorus, oboe and strings, with "just a dash of piccolo." It is based on a poem by Mary Herbert, countess of Pembroke.
"I liked the devotion in it," she says. "I picked the poem and didn't know a woman wrote it. It was really quite fortuitous . . . "