Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Liturgy and Mysticism in Manhattan

Last evening I celebrated the creative spirit at one of New York City’s high altars to Euterpe, Andrew Carnegie’s Temple, more commonly known as Carnegie Hall. The sanctuary was the Isaac Stern Auditorium/Ronald O. Perelman Stage. The 200 liturgists were the Oratorio Society of New York, Kent Tritle, Music Director. Andrew Carnegie, the Society’s president for thirty years, built the hall in recognition of the society’s need for a suitable creative home and it has performed there ever since, except for 1960.

The first offering in the evening’s program, Directed by Tritle, a forty minute meditation, was Cherubini's Requiem in C minor. This was one of the liveliest and most upbeat Requiems I have ever heard. A few minutes into the performance the chorus exploded with so much force that it could have raised the dead. Throughout it and the rest of the evening the Orchestra of the Society supported the chorus without ever overpowering it, allowing the vocals to dominate.

After a twenty-five minute intermission we were treated with two more offerings. Britten’s Te Deum in C was a delightful eight minute piece directed by David Rosenmeyer. Soprano Lauren Jelencovich’s performance was superb but most of all I appreciated her vocals when the sopranos of the chorus sang in unison with her.

Vaughan Williams’ Five mystical songs, with text drawn from four poems by the metaphysical poet, humanist, and priest George Herbert, with Baritone Tyler Duncan, mystified the audience for twenty minutes, as Tritle again directed, as usual sans baton.

This is my wife’s (photo top right, posing in front of the evening’s performance poster) second season with the Society (photo botom left, after their performance) and the fourth time on the Perelman Stage as a one of its members.

No comments: