In Paradisum:

Music exploring the Divine


Davis Community Church 

412 C St. Davis, CA

Davis Chorale

Alison Skinner, Artistic Director

LuAnn Higgs, accompanist


Elizabeth Banks

Leah Barnum

Shorty Boucher

Genevieve Brainerd

Gaelle Delarue

Molly DeSantis

Elisabeth Dubin

Marilyn Feather

Karen Fess-Uecker

Judy Fletcher

Lynda Garcia

Cheryl Loehr

Nancy Morrow

Laura Needle

Jeri Ohmart

Uta Russell

Patty Shade

Deborah Siler

Laurie Snodgrass


Vix Aiken

Edelgard Brunelle

Leslie Cooper

Karen Crane

Phyllis Graham

Anne Hillman

Katherine Holmes

Mary King

Julia Kulmann

Tanya Kumar

Janine Lin

Mariette Malessy

Jeanine McElwain

Meryl Motika

Karen Slabaugh

Lisa Stafford

Mary Sprifke

Lexie Webster


Thomas Estes

Katrina Huber-Juma

Richard Kulmann

Andrew Latimer

Susanna Lea

Jim Rodgers

Dave Showers

Val Syverson

Jacob Whittaker

Matthew Zavod


Matt Forrest

John Johnston

Brian Knapp

Bradley Norris

Gary Roberts

Daniel Smith

Daniel Syverson

Board of Directors:

Laurie Snodgrass, President

Justin Smith, Treasurer

Andrew Latimer, Secretary

Gen Brainerd

Molly DeSantis

Brian Knapp

Kim Miles

Meryl Motika

Jeri Ohmart

Operations Coordinator (staff position): Evar Restad

Webmasters: Craig Clark, Gen Brainerd

Donor Relations: Mary Sprifke, Beth Banks

Donations from January 2022 and April 2023

Thank you for helping support us as we come out of this unprecedented time.

Special thank you to for two recent grants:

~ the Davis Arts & Culture Grant Fund of the Yolo Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation

~ the California Non-profit Performing Arts Grant and the State of California 

Sponsor ($1000+): In Memory of Malcolm C. Green, In Memory of G. William Skinner, Greg and Kelle Melcher

Patron: ($500-999): Beth Banks, Edelgard Brunelle ~ In memory of Rachel Kessler, Meryl and Tim Motika, Wilfred & Karen Uecker-Fess 

Benefactor ($200-499): Craig Clark ~ In Memory of Rachel Kessler, Elizabeth & D. Kern Holoman ~ In Memory of Rachel Kessler, Alessa Johns, Rachel Kessler, Andrew Latimer, Jeri Ohmart, Alison Skinner, Mary Sprifke, Nina Vasiliev & Rev. Ian MacKinnon, Jim Wheeler & Laurie Snodgrass

Sustainer ($100-199): Vix Aiken, Jacki Amos, D. C. Benbow, Virginia Boucher, Donna Browning, Ruth & Michael Coleman, Don Deem, Gaelle Delarue, Kathleen DeSantis, Molly DeSantis, Tom Estes, Marilyn Feather, John & Elinor Gould, John Haine, Peggy Hale, Ann & Charles Halsted, LuAnn Higgs, Katherine Holmes, Brain Knapp, Janine Lin, Janette Levenson, Marion & Peter London, Sandra Mansfield, Bradley Norris, John & Alice Provost, Catherine Reed, Gary Roberts, Carrie Rocke, Susan Royalty, Uta Russell, Joan Sallee, Chelsea Schiano, Patricia Shade, Lexie Webster, Jake Whittaker

Contributors (up to $100): Christian Baldini, Patricia Ballenger, Jim Rodgers & Roberta Boegel, Susan Bryant-Still, J. C. Carr, Anya Clasen, Leslie Cooper, Cheryl Davis, Debra Dedoshka, Elisabeth Dubin, Dorothy & Allan Erickson, Sue Finley, Judy Fletcher, Matt Forrest, Christine Granger, Christine Hance, David Hance, Anne Hillman, John Johnston, Mick Klasson, Susanna Lea, Cheryl Loehr, Mariette Malessy, Janine McElwain, Carol Meredith, Kimberly Miles, Meghan Miller, Shelley Montgomery, Cliff Ohmart, William Pfanner, Michael D Phillips, Cookie & Steve Sacchetti, Babs Sandeen & Marty Swingle, Hector Sandoval, Kellie Schroeder, Deborah Siler, Karen Slabaugh, James Sprifke, Rob Sprifke, Elizabeth Stafford, Cynthia Steimle, Barbara Steinhardt-Carter, Katherine Unger, James Wright, Sierra Zelmer

Guest Artists

Lauma Akmene

Latvian organist Lauma Akmene has participated in numerous concert series and festivals in Europe and Canada: including “Concert of Latvian Sacred Music” during XV Latvian Song Festival in Canada at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto and “Four seasons with Lauma Akmene” at L'église du Très Saint Nom de Jésus in Montreal (intended to raise funds for an organ restoration). Lauma advocate for female composers and composers of color, frequently performing worship services and concerts that leave white cis male composers off the program. Lauma often includes music by Latvian composers in her concert programs.

Lauma studied organ with Hans-Ola Ericsson at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University in Montreal and theology and church music at the Luther Academy in Riga. Lauma also studied organ and piano at the Academy of Music, Dance and Fine Arts of Plovdiv in Bulgaria. She has attended masterclasses in performance, improvisation and choral conducting with well-known teachers in Europe and Canada (e.g. Olivier Latry, Jürgen Essl and James O'Donnell). 

Lauma has been working in churches for 12 years and is currently the music director at Davis Lutheran Church in California. Lauma has been involved in the Lutheran church since her childhood. Her pastor noticed her interest in organ and recommended her for the Church Music studies program at the Luther Academy. While studying, Lauma started to play worship services.

Jia-mo Chen

Jia-mo Chen, cello, holds an M.M. from San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He has performed with North State Symphony, Stockton Symphony, Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, and was a regular member of Chicago Civic Orchestra. He currently runs the J's Music Studio with his wife and is also the cello instructor at the Pacific Institute of Music.

Emerson McAlister

Emerson McAlister (they/them) is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. They recently won the Metropolitan Opera’s Laffont Competition San Francisco Districts. Emerson recently went through a fach change from soprano to mezzo.

A proud disabled, nonbinary/genderfluid individual, their passion for gender (or lack there of) bleeds into their work. They also identify as disabled and therefore, try to amplify voices in the disabled music community. In July 2022, Emerson was the winner of the VSA Young Artists Prize at The Kennedy Center, where they were honored and performed on Millennium Stage. Their Jewish identity also happens to be a crucial part of their performance career. Emerson has had success performing Jake Heggie’s Another Sunrise throughout the Jewish community of the Bay Area. This mission continues with their performance on Yom Hashoah at San Francisco’s JCC.

Some of Emerson’s repertoire includes Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito), which they performed at SFCM with directors James Darrah and Raviv Ullman, Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus), Eve/Barbara/Ella (The Apple Tree), Krystyna Żywulska (Another Sunrise), The Governess (The Turn of the Screw), Erste Dame and Zweite Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Mother (Amahl and the Night Visitors), and Countess (Le nozze di Figaro) which they covered at Opera San José.

They participated in Aspen Music Festival, Vienna Summer Music Festival, Utah Vocal Arts Academy, and Savannah Voice Festival. Emerson earned their MFA from SF Conservatory of Music, studying with Susanne Mentzer. Their BFA came from Carnegie Mellon University, studying with Maria Spacagna. 

Other than opera, they also actively advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, disability rights, and Jewish representation. Emerson is also currently pursuing a certification in Clinical Hypnotherapy and plans on seeing clients adjacent with their music career. They have an adorable rescue dog, Figaro, and rescue cat, Portobello, who you can both follow on Instagram: @figgly_wiggly and @porty.potty (you can find Emerson at @emersonmcmezzo). 

Daniel Yoder

Native-American (Pit River and Wintu Tribes) bass-baritone Daniel Yoder is honored to be singing with the Shasta Symphony and Shasta College Community Chorale! 

A resident of the Sacramento area, Mr. Yoder is currently a member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus and the American Bach Soloists.  He has performed with numerous groups, including the Kronos Quartet, West Edge Opera, Pocket Opera, Diablo Symphony, Sacramento Choral Society, Marin Symphony, Sacramento Opera, Fresno Grand Opera, Lamplighters Music Theater, the North State Bel Canto Singers, the UCDavis Orchestra, UCDavis Early Music Ensemble, Sinfonia Spirituosa, and others in seemingly countless solo, choral, and church engagements. 

Hailed by the San Francisco Classical Voice for his “powerful” and “accurate” performances, by the Sacramento Press for his “gorgeous solos,” and by the Sacramento Bee for his “polished baritone,” Mr. Yoder’s roles include Zurga in Bizet’s The Pearl Fishers, Leporello and Masetto in Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Betto in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Gugliermo in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte, Omar in Weber’s Abu Hassan, Silvio in Leoncavallo’s I Pagliacci, and Seneca in Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea.  His recent roles include Von Kalle in Marks’ and Peers’ Mata Hari, Figaro in Mozart’s Le Nozze de Figaro, Lieutenant in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Yeoman of the Guard, Volere in Gounod’s The Mock Doctor, the Sheriff in Flotow’s Martha, Schaunard in Leoncavallo’s La Boheme, the Doctor and Baron in Verdi’s La Traviata, Marcello in Puccini’s La Boheme, and Mr. Fogg in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  

In concert, Mr. Yoder has sung the roles of Achilla in Handel’s Giulio Cesare, Claudius in Handel’s Agrippina, and the Messenger in Handel’s Belshazzar.  He has delighted audiences with his numerous performances of the bass solos in Handel’s Messiah, as well as solos in the Mass in C Major and Christus am Ölberge, Op. 85, of Beethoven, the solos in the Requiems of Mozart, Duruflé, Fauré, and Malcolm Archer, and in the Coronation Mass, Great Mass in C, and the Missa Brevis in F of Mozart.  He has also performed the Paukenmesse of Haydn, The Seven Last Words of Christ by Theodore Dubois, the Five Mystical Songs of Vaughan Williams, and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.  A lifelong fan of Bach, Mr. Yoder has enjoyed performing the solos in Bach’s Durchlauchster Leopold (BWV 173) and Herr, wie du willt, so schicks mit mir (BWV 173a) cantatas, as well as the St. John’s Passion (BWV 245). 

Program Notes

This program consists of three works, of contrasting texts, texture and origin.

When the Violin Reena Esmail (b. 1983)

Written by Indian-American composer, Reena Esmail, When the Violin is based on a Hindu raga (specific melodic scale) similar to a western scale, but have an inherent melodic component.  The text is by the 14th Century Persian poet Hafiz, a deeply influential poet in Persian culture, and in Iranian culture today.  One can immediately understand why in the beauty of this poem.  

Paired with cello, this work creates a lush harmonic world full of dissonances and overlapping melodic lines.  Esmail creates waves of sound by the repeated phrases in the different parts and staggering the entrances. Listen for the little wordless solos that are layered into this dense texture. 


The violin

Can forgive the past

It starts singing.

When the violin can stop worrying

About the future

You will become

Such a drunk laughing nuisance

That God

Will then lean down

And start combing you into



When the violin can forgive

Every wound caused by


The heart starts


— Hafiz (~1325-1390), The Gift (tr. Daniel Ladinsky)

Rejoice in the Lamb Benjamin Britten (1913-1976)

Benjamin Britten wrote Rejoice in the Lamb in 1943, as an established composer.  While visiting the US in 1939, WH Auden introduced Britten to Christopher Smart’s poetry. He found the poem Jubilate Agno by Christopher Smart (1722–1771) and took parts of this long poem to set to music.  When he was commissioned to write a work for the 50th anniversary of the consecration of St. Matthew’s Church, Northampton. The priest, Walter Hussey, believed that churches should support new works, like they had in the Baroque and Classical era, and promoted the new work prior to it’s premier.

Listen for the off-kilter meter changes in the opening section when the text depicts many Old Testament figures (Nimrod, Jakim, David, Daniel, etc).  This section closes with a calm setting of Hallelujah.

Then, the topic shifts to praising God through animals and nature- a cat, a mouse and then flowers.

This is followed by a dramatic section where the poet depicts his own imprisonment in an asylum:

 "...for I am under the same accusation with my savior, for they said 'he is besides himself'.”  Britten writes this section so dramatically- you can practically hear him speaking then screaming the words.

This eventually gives way into a section depicting instruments praising God, with rhyming words that create a joyous atmosphere.

The work closes with a return to the Hallelujah section that was found earlier.  

Rejoice in God, O ye Tongues;

Give the glory to the Lord,

And the Lamb.

Nations, and languages,

And every Creature

In which is the breath of Life.

Let man and beast appear before him,

And magnify his name together.

Let Nimrod, the mighty hunter,

Bind a leopard to the altar

And consecrate his spear to the Lord.

Let Ishmail dedicate a tyger,

And give praise for the liberty

In which the Lord has let him at large.

Let Balaam appear with an ass,

And bless the Lord his people

And his creatures for a reward eternal.

Let Daniel come forth with a lion,

And praise God with all his might

Through faith in Christ Jesus.

Let Ithamar minister with a chamois,

And bless the name of Him

That cloatheth the naked.

Let Jakim with the satyr

Bless God in the dance,

Dance, dance, dance.

Let David bless with the bear

The beginning of victory to the Lord,

To the Lord the perfection of excellence.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,

Hallelujah for the heart of God,

And from the hand of the artist inimitable,

And from the echo of the heavenly harp

In sweetness magnifical and mighty.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

For I will consider my cat Jeoffry.

For he is the servant of the living God.

Duly and daily serving him.

For at the first glance

Of the glory of God in the East

He worships in his way.

For this is done by wreathing his body

Seven times round with elegant quickness.

For he knows that God is his saviour.

For God has bless'd him

In the variety of his movements.

For there is nothing sweeter

Than his peace when at rest.

For I am possessed of a cat,

Surpassing in beauty,

From whom I take occasion

To bless Almighty God.

For the Mouse is a creature

Of great personal valour.

For this is a true case--

Cat takes female mouse,

Male mouse will not depart,

but stands threat'ning and daring.

If you will let her go,

I will engage you,

As prodigious a creature as you are.

For the Mouse is a creature

Of great personal valour.

For the Mouse is of

An hospitable disposition.

For the flowers are great blessings.

For the flowers are great blessings.

For the flowers have their angels,

Even the words of God's creation.

For the flower glorifies God

And the root parries the adversary.

For there is a language of flowers.

For the flowers are peculiarly

The poetry of Christ.

For I am under the same accusation

With my Savior,

For they said,

He is besides himself.

For the officers of the peace

Are at variance with me,

And the watchman smites me

With his staff.

For the silly fellow, silly fellow,

Is against me,

And belongeth neither to me

Nor to my family.

For I am in twelve hardships,

But he that was born of a virgin

Shall deliver me out of all,

Shall deliver me out of all.

For H is a spirit

And therefore he is God.

For K is king

And therefore he is God.

For L is love

And therefore he is God.

For M is musick

And therefore he is God.

And therefore he is God.

For the instruments are by their rhimes,

For the shawm rhimes are lawn fawn and the like.

For the shawm rhimes are moon boon and the like.

For the harp rhimes are sing ring and the like.

For the harp rhimes are ring string and the like.

For the cymbal rhimes are bell well and the like.

For the cymbal rhimes are toll soul and the like.

For the flute rhimes are tooth youth and the like.

For the flute rhimes are suit mute and the like.

For the bassoon rhimes are pass class and the like.

For the dulcimer rhimes are grace place and the like.

For the clarinet rhimes are clean seen and the like.

For the trumpet rhimes are sound bound and the like.

For the trumpet of God is a blessed intelligence

And so are all the instruments in Heav'n.

For God the Father Almighty plays upon the harp

Of stupendous magnitude and melody.

For at that time malignity ceases

And the devils themselves are at peace.

For this time is perceptible to man

By a remarkable stillness and serenity of soul.

Hallelujah, hallelujah,

Hallelujah for the heart of God,

And from the hand of the artist inimitable,

And from the echo of the heavenly harp

In sweetness magnifical and mighty.

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.

Requiem Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986)

Maurice Duruflé was a 20th century composer, but composed in isolation to all of the musical changes that occurred in the 20th century.  Uninfluenced by Stravinsky and Schoenberg, he was a traditionalist.  He was a Gregorian chant scholar who worked to revive interest in the first form of written classical music.  In addition to being a teacher, scholar and composer, he was a brilliant organist.  So, not surprisingly, his greatest work, which we are performing today, involves both chant and organ.  

Based on the original Gregorian chant line of the Requiem, Duruflé’s interweaves the traditional chant into the complex world of 20th century harmonies and rhythms.  There is always a chant line somewhere- sometimes exposed as a solo line in the voices, sometimes buried in a layer in the organ part.  

There is drama in this Requiem, at the most poignant moments “deliver them, O lord, from the lion’s mouth… have mercy on them”, and exquisite beauty, like moments in the final movement “may the choirs of angels greet you… may you have eternal rest”.  The chant basis for this work creates an often atmospheric world that I hope you can close your eyes and get lost in.

Many of us don’t know the Gregorian chant of the requiem, so I’ve included a few snippets of chant here.

Latin Text

English Translation


Tenors and basses have melody throughout:

Sopranos have this melody, different rhythms:

Altos have this melody with changed rhythms:


This melody is treated fugally in all parts:


Sung in harmony:

Agnus Dei

Sung as main melody by many parts throughout the movement:

Lux Aeterna

Soprano melody:

Libera Me

Significantly modified melody sung by basses then entire choir at the end:

Sung by baritone solo:

Dies Irae

Repeated throughout by whole choir:

In Paradisum

Sopranos sing the chant:

This melody is heard in the organ: