Music for chorus
By Peter Jacobi
Betsy Burley hasn’t been on the IU Jacobs School faculty for very long, but she’s making her mark, using skills honed not only while earning undergraduate and doctoral degrees here but in wide-ranging experience gained conducting the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, among a host of others.
On Saturday evening in Auer, she led the University Singers in a demanding program of works by Monteverdi, Dominick Argento and Brahms, each having to do with the whims, worries, or wonders of love. The results were exceptional.
The concert opened with Monteverdi’s “Lamento d’Arianna,” written for an opera, now lost, about Ariadne and her betrayed love for Theseus. The music, impassioned and intense, weaves multiple streams of song into a potent package of anguish and melancholy. Burley and company wove the intricacies expertly.
Argento’s cycle, “I Hate and I Love,” employs poetry from the Roman Catullus, inspired by the poet’s feelings of love and hate for a beautiful but deceitful woman named Clodia. “I hate and I love,” the chorus begins, with heavy percussion underscoring “hate” and percussive quiet, “love.” “Perhaps you will ask how that can be possible,” the words continue. “I do not know, but that is what I feel and it torments me.” Seven more expressions of love and torment follow in Argento’s creative score. The University Singers spared no zest in musically retelling the misfortunes of Catallus in love.
Brahms’ lyrical and lilting “Zigeunerlieder” (“Gypsy Songs”) made for a rollicking and melodious close, thanks to the music itself and a super-spirited performance.
© Herald Times 2014