- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

''In Quiet Resting Places" is music with a story and a message. The piece, which the Master Chorale of Washington premieres tomorrow, took its inspiration from the book of Genesis and is underwritten by an environmental philanthropist.

"[Its] a larger choral work built around sort of a spiritual view of the environment," says Robert Leggett, who is an avid hiker, a philanthropist and head of the Robert and Dee Leggett Foundation. "I want people to have something that touches them and gets them to think about what it means to live on this planet."

Mr. Leggett, of Great Falls, a choral director himself, originally commissioned composer Daniel E. Gawthrop to do the piece for the Vienna Choral Society. Mr. Gawthrop wanted to work on a larger scale, though, and after listening to several other choruses, Mr. Leggett chose the Master Chorale to perform the work.

The Master Chorale (formerly the Paul Hill Chorale) performs "In Quiet Resting Places" along with Mozart's "Vesperae Solennes de Confessore" as part of its "Nature's Magic and Mozart" program at 2 p.m. tomorrow in the Kennedy Center's Concert Hall, F Street and New Hampshire Ave. NW.

"When it's sung, it comes to life. The music matches it beautifully," says Master Chorale Director Donald McCullough. "Here the music brings out the text."

Mr. McCullough says that Mr. Gawthrop's work is accessible and that the new work is "a melodic, lyrical piece of music."

The composition is part of an outreach attempt by Mr. Leggett's newly formed Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship. Being built on 900 acres near Purcellville, Va., the center allows archaeologists, botanists and others to use the land and the center for environmental study.

The result of Mr. Gawthrop's efforts is a work that takes its name from Isaiah, quotes Genesis and celebrates the glories of creation. For instance, vocalists sing in one section, "Of the dust of the ground did God form man/of the earth are we made, as all living."

"I wanted to get the religious side more involved in the environmental movement," Mr. Leggett says. "To get people to look at what the text and the words really mean."

Although he gave initial direction to the project, Mr. Leggett left the details to Mr. Gawthrop. He first heard the new piece yesterday at the chorale's dress rehearsal, although he had the master score ahead of time.

By commissioning artists to celebrate nature, Mr. Leggett says he hopes people will take his Earth-friendly views to heart.

The piece runs 35 minutes, with solos from baritone Steven Combs and soprano Elizabeth Kluegel. Tickets, which cost $16 to $42, can be obtained by calling 202/467-4600 or 800/444-1324.

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