University Chorale joins with orchestra to give highly satisfying concert

University Chorale joins with orchestra to give highly satisfying concert

By Peter Jacobi H-T Reviewer | pjacobi@heraldt.com
February 20, 2012

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The hour or so of beauteous sound could make one forget all the strife and silliness in the news outside. One heard music in late Romantic era bloom, glowing and on the wing in Ralph Vaughan Williams’ rhapsodic “The Lark Ascending,” healing and gently grand in Gabriel Faure’s Requiem.

The reportorial choices were those of R. Ryan Endris, a doctoral candidate in choral conducting in Indiana University’s Jacobs School. He had gathered and rehearsed the University Chorale and Conductors’ Orchestra, along with needed soloists, for what turned out to be a highly satisfying concert that attracted a good-sized audience to Auer Hall on Saturday evening.

One of the needed soloists, very needed, was violinist Sophie Bird, who applied refinement of technique and sweet warbling to generate the joyful flight of the lark in Vaughan Williams lovely serenade. Young Bird’s beautifully shaped performance prompted this listener to close his eyes and imagine what the composer sought to produce: a sylvan scene — verdant meadow, lush trees, blue sky, and the lark free and soaring — a happy, dreamy sight.

The Faure Requiem delivers a very different aura than the mighty ones of Berlioz and Verdi. There’s no anger in its outlook, no attempted build-up of fear. The “Dies Irae,” expressing breathing judgment and wrath, is absent from this Requiem. Instead, the music engenders warmth. It offers comfort. Grieve not, the score seems to preach. Grieve not because, for the departed, peace and rest are the rewards.

At the work’s center is a “Pie Jesu,” unique to Faure’s Requiem, built on a prayer-like melody given to the soprano soloist. “Merciful Lord Jesus, grant them rest, everlasting,” Audrey Escots sang movingly. The aria is oft used at funeral services for the solace it was meant by the composer to give.

Conductor Endris not only recognized the concept and the interpretive voice required to release it but had the ability to imbue his vocal and instrumental forces with his view of the music’s assuaging spirit. Soprano Escots caught the intended essence, as did baritone soloist Zachary Coates, the splendid Bruce Neswick on the organ, a pliant Conductors’ Orchestra, and, very much so, the University Chorale.

Endris had the chorus singing with fervor and reverence, with clarity and purity of sound. The whispers in the opening “Kyrie,” the uplifting lyricism of the “Agnus Dei,” and the angelic “In Paradisum” were skillfully intoned for maximum impact, an impact not intended for show but message.

 

Copyright: HeraldTimesOnline.com 2012

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