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Choral Arts Society at the Kennedy Center

Tuesday May 8, 2007

choralarts_long.jpgThe Washington Post 5/8/07:  Concerts by the Choral Arts Society of Washington are one of life’s few truly reliable pleasures: Artistic Director Norman Scribner has sophisticated, imaginative taste, and the ensemble sounds more precise and integrated with every performance.  That was the case, anyway, on Sunday afternoon at the Kennedy Center, where the chorus turned in deeply satisfying accounts of Mozart, Gershwin and the American composer Morten Lauridsen.

Mozart’s Mass in C Major, K.337 (Missa Solemnis) is often overlooked; it’s rather brief for a Mass, and lacks the renown of his famous Coronation Mass.  But it’s a beautiful work with no lack of surprising turns and moving depths, and Scribner led the group’s Chamber Choir in an intense, very focused reading, with soprano Theresa Severin soaring through one achingly beautiful solo after another.

Morten Lauridsen
The concert version of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” (which headlined the concert) links a dozen of the opera’s biggest crowd-pleasers, and Joseph Holt conducted a lively, uninhibited performance. Things got off to a slow start with a rather timid “Summertime”, but soprano Janice Chandler Eteme and baritone Alvy Powell quickly loosened up and turned in some gorgeous singing, while Holt spurred orchestra and chorus cheerfully into the rafters.

But it was Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” that really stole the show. Built on liturgical texts that all have to do with light, this 1997 work is absolutely radiant -- even exalting -- with a kind of rapturous joy running through it.  Scribner led a lyrical, delicately nuanced performance that was not only stunningly beautiful, but had the rare and unmistakable ring of truth in every note.

Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 09:26AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

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