MEMBERS of The Crossing, a Philadelphia professional chamber choir whose sound the New York Times has described as "lush" and "mesmerizing," sing a lot more than your typical Bach cantatas and oratorios. That’s evident this weekend with the all-vocal "Hesperus is Phosphorus," the second concert in the group’s fourth annual Month of Moderns series. The series fulfills conductor Donald Nally’s initiative to commission new music for the group. This year’s theme has been pieces related to or inspired by poetry; "Hesperus" draws from modern vespers.
"Hesperus" was composed by Lewis Spratlan, the 2000 winner of the Pulitzer Prize in music, and father of Dan Spratlan, a Crossing bass singer. Although vespers are now associated with Christianity, the composer decided to channel ancient Greece in the work. The word "vespers" comes from the ancient Greek term for evening and a name for the evening star, Hesperus, which eventually was discovered to be the same as the morning star, Phosphorus — and, actually, the planet Venus.