According to beardoholic.com (yes, that’s actually a real website), composer Johannes Brahms has one of the coolest beards around. We completely agree, which is why we’re giving everyone a chance to try it on for size. The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra will have Brahms’ beard, nose included, printed on popsicle sticks for anyone who ever wanted to see how they look with a burlesque beard. I personally love Brahms and beards, so I can’t wait to #BrahmsMe at the Clay Center on March 5th. 

There’s something magical that happens when orchestras and voices join forces, and this performance will be no exception. More than 400 instrumentalists and vocalists will come together to perform one of the most powerful and relatable works of art ever written: A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms composed between 1865 and 1868. Choirs from all over the state will join the WVSO, making this the largest ensemble to ever perform on the Clay Center stage. 

What makes this piece of music so incredible? It’s severely human. Brahms himself later commented on this piece saying, “As for the title, I must admit I should like to leave out the word ‘German’ and refer instead to ‘Humanity’.” At the time, a traditional requiem was a prayer for the dead, and instead of focusing on redemption of the soul, Brahms sought to comfort the living who must deal with and accept death. 

There is a flight of emotions that one goes through when losing a loved one, and Brahms carefully selected text and pieced together fragments from throughout the Bible to create a tapestry of solace. One clear example of this is the metamorphosis of the opening line Blessed are they who mourn to Blessed are the dead at the end of the piece. 

The first and last movements echo each other in conveying blessings, first upon the mourners, finally upon the dead. The second and sixth movements are the darkest (and longest). The third and fifth movements feature soloists in meditations, the baritone seeking hope, the soprano bestowing it. Nestled in the middle is the shortest movement, the gorgeous chorus of tranquility, “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place.”

While this is quite a heavy topic, I find the rawness of this piece so painstakingly beautiful and universal. 

Tickets for Charleston’s performance on Saturday, March 5th begin at $10 and can be purchased by visiting wvsymphony.org or by calling the Clay Center Box office at 304.561.3570. My favorite tweet seats are available in the second balcony for only $10 – share your experience with us!