Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Tempus pro Carmina

Last night I performed Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Cathedral Choral Society at the Kennedy Center. Overall I think we did a very good job. We had some interesting moments—you know, those sort of moments that only happen in live performance. Like where you are keeping one eye on your music and the other on the conductor, when suddenly the conductor wants to do something he’s never tried before. It does keep you on your toes, but after so many years of performing you learn to compensate. As I often say, no performance with Reilly is ever dull. We really did acquit ourselves admirably, as evidenced by a real standing ovation (not just the ordinary Washington variety).

Our group usually performs at the National Cathedral where we are the resident symphonic chorus. We were presented (along with the Washington Bach Consort) by the Washington Performing Arts Society. Our amazing soloists were soprano Elizabeth Futral, tenor/swan Robert Baker, and bass-baritone Stephen Powell. We had really good interaction with Baker, who has sung the tenor solo in Carmina with us many times over the last decade. (CCS performed Carmina twice with the Washington Ballet). The movement “In taberna” allowed the tenors and basses to do what they do best: ham it up! The swan was roasted, and the abbot was appropriately imbibed. More than that—and I think this is why it’s quickly becoming our signature piece—is that we own the music. After singing this piece three times with this group in the last decade, I definitely think this is the case

How can 200 singers do more than sing notes on a page? How can they tell a story and convey emotions, musical beauty and drama, and still sing in-tune, in-time, and in-style? Rehearsal, rehearsal, rehearsal. The older I get the more I admire volunteer musicians who give of their time and energies to artistic endeavors. We could be sitting on our couches watching reality shows or reading books, etc. But we choose to belong to a community of artists, and I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening. The late conductor Robert Shaw said that any time you make music is extra time God gives you to your life. It’s a good lesson to internalize as I learn music, because there is no greater gift than being able to give of yourself through art.


At Thu Mar 23, 07:14:00 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Sounds like it was an excellent evening of beautiful music... congratulations!

And you had Stephen Powell as a soloist... WOW. He has starred in two recent operas up in Cleveland ("Sweeney Todd" and "Eugene Onegin"), and I was blown away by both performances. Incredible voice!

Thanks for sharing!

At Thu Mar 23, 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Thom said...

Thank you. Yes, he was very reserved in rehearsal. I could tell it was a very big and sensitive voice. His upper range is quite delicate in the soft passages. He was so funny in the "Ego sum abbas" solo when he acted like a drunk monk. Our cries of "Wafna" seemed to knock him for a loop.


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