To the west: Symphony in C with Astral Artists at the Kimmel Center, reviewed for the Courier-Post, April 20, 2009.
I had to chuckle when I was asked if I'd "made it through" the program's opening piece, a contemporary work by Sebastian Currier. It might have provoked some squirming, but I found it very colorful, witty and exciting, with soloist and orchestra pulling it off ably. Using the minuet form as a point of departure, Currier plays with cadences and expectations, making the phrases fall in unanticipated spots. Oddly, I heard some of that same playfulness in the delayed final cadence at the end of Strauss' "Four Last Songs."
To the south and west: This past weekend, I accompanied the Greater South Jersey Chorus to Washington, DC for a performance at the National Gallery of Art. I'm currently at work on a preview of the Chorus' performances of Carmina Burana on May 2 and 17, and the invitation to perform as part of a weekend choral festival came at just the right time to include the honor in my article.
Their program of 18th and 19th century American hymns and folk tunes was a very thoughtful, well-balanced assemblage, and the resonance of the National Gallery's Garden Court gave just the right boost to the chorus' sound, particularly the sopranos and basses. The 45-minute set could have used one or two more up-tempo numbers, but the concert's peak -- a stunning rendition of Aaron Copland's setting of "At the River" -- and its conclusion -- Rishel's own arrangement of the spiritual "All Night, All Day" -- were all the more effective for their deliberate pacing and slow build in dynamics and intensity. This indicates good things to come in May's Carmina performances.
Roughly two-thirds of the 90-member chorus made the trek, and I was very privileged to speak with director Dean Rishel, Chorus president Bill Kinsey, tour manager Bonnie Meilner and several other members of the chorus during the bus trip.
Just the facts, ma'am (and plenty of them)
1 hour ago