Orchestra gives tribute to late Camilla Williams
By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | email@example.com
February 21, 2012
As “Commemoration,” Sunday afternoon’s so-titled concert in the Indiana University Auditorium by the Camerata Orchestra proved an affecting tribute to the late Camilla Williams. As music, the event served to remind the audience that the Camerata is a community institution of great worth.
In mid-concert, the live music paused for a video salute to Williams, one that movingly focused on her contributions as a woman of deep faith, soprano of great talent, teacher devoted to her students, and pioneer who paved the way for other African-Americans in the world of classical music.
Appropriately helping to provide the live music were two soloists closely associated with Camilla Williams: a former student, soprano Janet Williams, and Charles Webb, dean emeritus of the Jacobs School who, while dean, hired Camilla Williams, making her the first African-American professor on its voice faculty.
Soloist Williams, who now has an active performance and teaching career in Europe, turned first to Mozart, a charming concert aria, “Nehmt meinen Dank, ihr holden Gonner” (“Accept my thanks for her gracious patrons”) and the joyous, well-known “Allelujah.” She delivered them with spunk and commendable articulation, before shifting to more emotional territory: the reverential spiritual, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as arranged by Margaret Bonds, and Edward Boatner’s rousing anthem, “O What a Beautiful City.” One could almost hear in their poignant delivery the influence of teacher Williams on student Williams.
Webb accompanied Williams in the Boatner, then remained in the spotlight for the remainder of Sunday’s program. He first collaborated in the stimulating conclusion to Alexandre Guilmant’s Symphony No. 1 for Organ and Orchestra, conquering every technical challenge. To follow, he and the Camerata’s guest conductor, Arie Lipsky, had chosen Camille Saint-Saens’ large-scaled, resplendent, at times bombastic, Franz Liszt-influenced Symphony No. 3, usually called the “Organ Symphony” because of the instrument’s dominant presence in the score.
Virtuoso keyboard artist that he is, Webb seemed to find and fully display the treats reserved for the organ in this unusual and often splashy symphony. So did Maestro Lipsky locate the orchestral treats. He had the Camerata playing to full potential, as he did much of the afternoon. The concert opened in celebratory fashion with the Prelude to Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger.” Though the reading began a bit sluggishly, it ended in spirited dazzle.
Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012