By Wallace Baine, Sentinel Entertainment Editor
Of the many social problems that plague modern life, homelessness is one of the most intractable and familiar. But rarely does the issue get a foothold in the classical music canon.
On Saturday afternoon, at Peace United Church in Santa Cruz, the San Jose-based group the Choral Project will take on homelessness directly in a performance of the choral work “Street Requiem.”
The 50-minute piece was composed by Australian composers Kathleen McGuire, Andy Payne and Jonathan Welch and debuted in 2014. Since then, the piece has been performed around the world, with proceeds going to homeless shelters and other organizations.
The piece, said the 53-voice Choral Project’s artistic director Daniel Hughes, addresses issues of what it’s like to live on the streets and assumes the voice of the homeless in confronting the audience, “Why do you ignore me when you leave the concert hall?”
“It doesn’t follow the traditional Roman liturgical requiem format,” said Hughes. “It’s created to be accessible to both the singer and the audience.”
Part of the “Street Requiem” is devoted to memorialize all the forgotten people who’ve died while living on the streets. “You lose your name, your identity,” said Hughes. “You’re basically forgotten. But this piece remembers them. It’s really quite moving.”
The Choral Project’s performance of “Street Requiem” takes place Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4 p.m. at Peace United Church, 900 High St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $35, $45 and $55. Details: www.choralproject.org.