Until the best-selling CD of his Third Symphony turned him into classical music’s flavor of the month, Henryk Gorecki toiled in relative anonymity in his native Poland. And his fellow countrymen Witold Lutoslawski, Andrzej Panufnik, and, Krzysztof Penderecki still command deeper respect for their probing avant-gardism and fierce political commitment. Gorecki’s less unsettling, more mystical style incorporates folk and Gregorian elements, and in looking to the distant past-appropriating medieval church hymns, for instance–he’s no different from Estonian Arvo Part or Englishman John Tavener. But Gorecki’s symphony contains a hauntingly beautiful vocal movement (sung by Dawn Upshaw on the Elektra/Nonesuch CD) that has struck a chord with listeners. This (free) all-Gorecki concert offers a sample of his works for unaccompanied chorus written around the time of the Third Symphony. The meat of the program is the 37-minute Miserere (1981), a protest on behalf of the Solidarity movement against police brutality, which will be performed by the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera choruses. Conducting is John Nelson, a skilled operatic maestro who’s been championing Gorecki’s music outside Poland. Other smaller-scale explorations in subtly shifting harmonies, including the song cycle Broad River (1979), will be handled by the Lira Singers and guests under the direction of Lucy Ding. Gorecki is expected to be present at the concert, whose entire program will be recorded for release next year. Sunday, 3 PM, St. Mary of the Angels Church, 1850 N. Hermitage; 539-4900.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Malcolm Crowthers.