Vespers of Reflection: “Abraham and Isaac”

Lenten Vespers of Reflection, Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 5:00 pm

Lenten Vespers of Reflection, Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 5:00 pm

Mezzo soprano Melissa Plagemann and tenor James Brown sing at Vespers of Reflection for Lent on Saturday, March 8, 2014, at 5:00 pm. This service is at Church of the Redeemer, 6211 NE 182nd Street, Kenmore Washington.

Vespers of Reflection is a time to listen to readings and music about how God has redeemed all people. There will be no sermon.

As part of this service, Plagemann and Brown sing Canticle II, “Abraham and Isaac,” Opus 51, by Benjamin Britten. Composed in January 1952, this tells the tale of what happened Abraham heard God command him offer up his own child Isaac for sacrifice. The individual soloists are the father and son. Together, singing in rhythmic unison, the soloists are the voice of God.

The text of “Abraham and Isaac” comes from the Chester Mystery Plays. It tells of the Binding of Isaac found in Genesis 22.1-19. This music will come alive during the Vespers of Reflection in the wonderful acoustic of Church of the Redeemer, accompanied with a Chickering grand piano.

This recording of “Abraham and Issac” is a live performance from 1977 by Peter Pears and Janet Baker, with Graham Johnson, piano. Pears was one of the two soloists for which this work was composed.

The Soloists for this Vespers of Reflection

The soloists during Vespers of Reflection are Melissa Plagemann and James L. Brown.

Melissa Plagemann, mezzo-soprano, performs frequently throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has appeared with some of the area’s finest musical organizations, including the Seattle Symphony, Tacoma Opera, Orchestra Seattle, and Seattle Opera Guild.

Plagemann has an interest in music of the Baroque era, performing in several masterpieces of J.S. Bach. This includes the St. John Passion, Mass in B Minor, Magnificat in D, and several of his cantatas.

In addition, Plagemann is an enthusiastic performer of new music. She has appeared with several ensembles dedicated to performing the works of living composers, including Sonic Lab, 16 visions/Fisher Ensemble, and the Esoterics. As a founding member of the Seattle New Music Ensemble, she has performed Schönberg’s Pierrot Lunaire and John Cage’s Aria.

James L. Brown maintains an eclectic career as a tenor, conductor, and stage director. The Chair of Vocal Studies at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington, Brown directs that school’s Opera Workshop.

Some of the groups with which Brown has sung include the New York City Opera, New Orleans Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Seattle Early Music Guild, and The Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy.

Brown has sung many world premieres, including Vladimir Ryabav’s The Border Between Light and Darkness, Sheila Silver’s The Thief of Love, Jack Beeson’s The Equilibrists, and Riccardo Zohn-Muldoon’s Comala.

Church of the Redeemer

Community life at Church of the Redeemer centers on worship in the Episcopal tradition. Art and music vitally deepen this worship. Our faith expresses itself with service to people, locally to internationally.

Church of the Redeemer is in Kenmore, Washington, at 6211 NE 182nd Street. The campus is a short distance north of Bothell Way, near the Burke-Gilman Trail. Contact Redeemer at (425) 486-3777 or The website URL is

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