A year ago, Sara McKay was driving in her car not long after the departing of a family member.
She turned on Minnesota Public Radio's classical music station and happened to hear the last movement of Gabriel Faure's Requiem in D Minor, a fitting and meaningful coincidence given the circumstances.
"I had to stop the car and just listen — it was so beautiful," said McKay, director of the St. Peter Choral Society, which is preparing to present a concert of French masterworks, including Faure's Requiem and two works by Charles Gonoud on Sunday, and again on March 16. "This will be the gift we are giving our audience."
That gift will also include a 17-piece orchestra and a pair of soloists for Faure's work: Melody Johnson and James Bohn. Johnson has performed as a soloist for the Oratorio Society of Minnesota and the Rochester Bach Ensemble and is making her St. Peter Choral Society debut. James Bohn is the official signer of the national anthem at Minnesota Wild home games and performs with the acclaimed choral ensemble VocalEssence.
Furthermore, McKay said Choral Society benefactors once again arranged for a series of $500 scholarships for student singers; all six of this year's recipients are participating the performance.
In addition to Faure, concert-goers will hear Gonoud's famous setting of the Ave Maria and his lesser-known setting of Stabat Mater.
"We work all year for this," McKay said. "So, it's a culmination."
Since its formation in 1979, the Saint Peter Choral Society has performed a variety of the world's finest choral music. Many of these performances, such as Mendelssohn's "Elijah," Haydn's "The Seasons," and Bach's "St. John Passion" had not been previously performed live in the area.
More than 500 singers, 90 soloists and 125 instrumentalists have participated in performances over the years. The group is open to all singers and there are no auditions.
For more information, visit www.stpeterchoralsociety.org.
If You Go What St. Peter Choral Society concert Performances ■ 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at Union Presbyterian Church, 730 S. Third St., St. Peter ■ 2:30 p.m. on March 16 at Sacred Heart Church, 111 Fourth St. NW, Waseca Tickets May be purchased in advance at Swedish Kontur in St. Peter for $10 in advance; $15 at the door. Students admitted free of charge.