Glory, revel, delight, triumph, crow, boast, jubilate, and celebrate are all synonyms of exult. That's what was happenin' the other night, Jan. 22nd. at the Disney Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Master Chorale. If there were crows in the hall, as this program cover suggests, they too must've been "flying for joy"! What a celebration! What excitement! What a concert!
This concert was especially wonderful for me because I was meeting my sister from Santa Fe there. We had two seats in the third row with an excellent view of the pipe organ keyboards which was the featured instrument of the night. This is only the third time that the L.A.M.C. has done this. Ken Cowan, an organist virtuoso, from St. Bartholomew's in New York, made that wondrous instrument "talk". He had a "page-turner" who got in the way on his right side at times, but it was fascinating to watch him use every extremity to play the West Coast Premiere of "River of God" by Andrea Clearfield. She was sitting 5 seats away from me, a lovely young lady, who just exuded excitement. I watched her hands as Ken played her composition and they held each other tightly, but her fingers couldn't keep from "moving on their own" with some of the more challenging arpegios. At the end of the work, she was acknowledged by Grant and took an extend bow with many standing O's. The compostion was based on Psalm 65 and it captured the Love of God as expressed there, like a flowing river. It was just gorgeous!
At the pre-concert lecture we were introduced to the two "none dead" composers in the program. They were both very young and upcoming in their fields. I would venture to say that they, Andrea and Tarik O'Regan, were probably the only ones there, at that lecture, say 100+ people, who were near or under 30. (excluding Grant) Yes, mostly "retirees" or "semi-retiree's" like me, attend these pre-concert functions. This is depressing to see and yet encouraging that L.A.M.C. is featuring the "growing/going edge" in this First Performing Art, choral music with organ. I met and sat next to one of my colleagues from Mountainside Master Chorale. Pat Kelly and her husband, both recently retired from related fields. She was a music (choral) teacher for many years and even brought her own groups to sing with Mountainside. Her hubby worked for KCET. We had fun together on choir tour to Scotland, England and the Istedfad in Wales several years ago. She is still active and performing in music but not with Mountainside. We both taught 6th grade at sometime in our careers and produced programs of music and drama with our students. Hopefully, some young whipper-snappers (baton shakers) have taken our places. My sister and friend Jerry recognized two of their friends in the L.A.M.C.: one from the Desert Chorale of years ago and one from Chanticleer; both men I think.
"Rejoice in the Lamb" by Benjamin Britten and Christopher Smart was most interesting to follow along with the soloists once we found out from Grant again that the poems it was based on were written in an Insane Asylum in a "state of constant prayer/madness". My sister said she had sung it and loved the Alto's version of the "mouse". I personally liked the "cat Jeoffrey" as portrayed by Claire Fedoruk, my favorite soloist, choir member. She sits on my end and sings from her heart. The "cat" "worships" in his way by turning around seven times in his bed with "elegant quickness". That's just how she sang it.
"Kiddush" by Kurt Weil had that "Porgy and Bess" harmonic of Gershwin. It was written for a canter at the temple and is a Jewish Rite, I think. It provided a nice contrast to the other selections and yet used Hebrew like the Chichester.
The two, little known/performed works of Franz Liszt led off the evening in reverse order. I can see why now. The first "Qui Seminant in Lacrimis" was more dynamic and needed better "mixing" between the organ and the chorale. It was "sown in tears" and not quite "reaped in joy" for me. The second, "Ave Maria" was by far the better of the two chorally. The tenor's plantive and romantic lead definitely got to me, being a tenor now.
"The Dorchester Canticles" by Tarik O'Regan was comissioned and performed as a companion piece to the major work performed after intermission. ie "The Chichester Psalms" by Leonard Bernstein. We had the "leaner-meaner" versions of them (according to Grant) without full orchestra, just harp, organ and percussion. Tarik introduced his Canticles as being for the Anglican Church in Dorchester which is near Oxford where he lived when he began the composition. He said the second half of the work reflects his moving to New York City and the noise and chaos he found there. Psalm 67: "God be merciful unto us..." certainly speaks to that in Part II. The Chichester Psalms, sung in Hebrew, is just the opposite to me. It ends beautifully and quietly with Psalm 131 and 133 after Psalm 2 "Why do the Nations rage?" A real surprise was Psalm 23, Part II, "The Lord is my Shepherd", Justin Filbrich, a boy soprano, just walks out on stage, to his microphone and "like a pro" performs for memory in Hebrew perfectly. His clear, pure tones without any vibratto were so appropriate for this text ie. a young shepherd acknowledging his Lord as His Shepherd. Wow!
Ah, then, the thrill of the evening for my sister and me...the unannounced Encore: "Ubi Carita Deus ibi est" "Where there is Love, there is God." We both had tears of joy. It was just the perfect ending to our Evening of Exultation! Bob