Berkshire Choral Festival

Date and Venue 22 June 2011, 8pm | The Chan Centre

Programme Voices of Light, The Passion of Joan of Arc involving choir, orchestra, and the 1928 silent film.

Reviewer Karen Fitzgibbon

As we entered the Chan Centre there stood an impressive choir of 150 members and the National Broadcast Orchestra in classic black and white attire and thus began an evening of magnificent music. The sound was medieval and the powerful chanting of over 150 voices and the large orchestra was haunting. Each note found its way deep into our souls in just a few bars into their performance. The music was comprised of sounds of old and yet contemporary. I was informed that the music was actually written less than twenty years ago. Voices of Light was sung in Latin, Old and Middle French, and Italian. Above the orchestra and in the middle of the choir was the projection of the award winning silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. The Passion of Joan of Arc was a lost 1928 silent film that was eventually found and refurbished in 1981. All was beautifully performed under the direction of conductor Tom Hall, Music Director of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. The music was by Richard Einhorn and the silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc by Carl Dreyer.

There were four soloists and a medieval quartet comprised of acclaimed singers Anonymous Four who performed emotional and moving pieces that coincided with the elements of the silent film. Tonight’s ensemble of music, voices, orchestra and film would truly have moved Joan of Arc herself.

Alas, there were far too many empty seats. The next time the Berkshire Choral comes to Vancouver with another performance of great music we must honour them with a full house. Perhaps Vancouver as a whole can do more to advertise such greatness in music.

As the music ended with the death of Joan of Arc the audience stood up in a well deserved standing ovation. Great music and a great performance!

© 2011 Karen Fitzgibbon