HORIZONS: BERNSTEIN AND THE VANCOUVER BACH CHOIR
Conductor Bramwell Tovey
Dates and Venues Saturday & Monday, 21 & 23 October @ 8pm, Orpheum Theatre
Reviewer Ed Farolan
In his introduction, Maestro Tovey explained why VSO has come up with a new series called Horizons. He gave Mt. Baker as an example: some days, when you look towards the southeast, you see it so clearly that you can almost touch it. And that's what it's about--it's trying to reach something. This quest for something new is what makes VSO a dynamic company. There's always something different. And to my pleasant surprise, another innovation has been added: screens are now in place so that you can see closeup details of the orchestra--fingers on a violin, faces in the choir, Maestro Tovey's hand movements as he conducts. No longer shall we see just the backs of the conductors when we go to VSO concerts. We can now frontally see them conduct, thanks to the screens.
The evening opened with a tribute to Canadian composer John Weinzweig who passed away last month. It was a short piece, around two minutes long, Round Dance. Aaron Copland's El Salón México followed. This piece was inspired when the composer visited Mexico in 1932, and premiered in Mexico City in 1937.
Leonard Bernstein's Chichester's Psalms followed. The texts were written in Hebrew and sung beautifully by the Vancouver Bach Choir. The andante con moto ma tranquilo of Psalm 23 ("The Lord is my Shepherd") was sung splendidly by featured boy soprano soloist Matthew Hough who received a warm applause after his rendition of this song.
After the intermission, Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis was beautifully rendered by the Strings section of the orchestra. And finally, Estonian composer Arvo Pärt´s Berliner Mass was sung magnificently in Latin by the Vancouver Bach Choir. I still recall the the fifties and early sixties when the masses were still said in Latin and Kyrie Eleison, Gloria in Excelsis Deo , Credo, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were all sung in Latin.
The concert left me with a deeply religious and spiritual feeling, a feeling of contemplative meditativeness -- something perhaps to spiritually reach out to, like Mt. Baker on a clear day.
© 2006 Ed Farolan