The concert Tuesday at the Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington had a special ring to it. The combined choirs of Epiphany and St. John's Parish added another lovely installment to Epiphany's noontime concert series, which is marking a quarter-century of luring nearby office workers, even suburbanites, who prefer music to lunch.
The hour-long concert offered works chiefly by American and British composers reflecting the Episcopal/Anglican anthem tradition. Epiphany's Eric Plutz and St. John's William Bradley Roberts alternated as conductors.
Of the 10 works (some a cappella, some accompanied by Plutz at the organ), most effective were John Ireland's "Greater Love Hath No Man" and the Latin motet "Haec est Dies," questionably ascribed to the Renaissance composer Jacob Handl. The singers excelled in the Ireland, giving the music a determined buoyancy and varied sonic contours aided by clearly shaped dynamics. For the Handl motet, the chorus was divided between the front and back of the sanctuary, resounding with marvelous antiphonal effects, its echoing timbres timed beautifully to the millisecond.
Though one wonders if the choruses wearied of works mostly in major keys and tame harmonies, all the music was sung and conducted with skill, concentration and enjoyment, along with Plutz's imaginative, precise accompaniments. But the premiere of Michael Sitton's "The Feet of Judas" did little to spice up the proceedings.
-- Cecelia Porter