Sunday, December 06, 2009

The Little Match Girl Passion

The green room
The Little Match Girl Passion
Pacific Mozart Ensemble
Lynne Morrow, Music Director
Friday December 4, 7:30 pm
The Green Room
War Memorial Veterans Building

Ave Maria
Sanford Dole

Excerpts from Vespa Rjad (Vespian Paths)
Veljo Tormis

Ilya Demutsky

The Little Match Girl Passion
David Lang

Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
Traditional Spiritual

Cast Thy Bread Upon the Waters
Michael T. Roberts

Veni, Veni Emmanuel (A Christmas Prayer)
Cary Boyce

Hymn to St. Cecilia
Benjamin Britten

Psalm 21
Dave Brubeck

Rise Up Shepherds and Follow, trad. Spiritual
Go, Tell it on the Mountain, trad. Spiritual
Adeste Fideles
Angels We Have Heard On High

The Pacific Mozart Ensemble, an a cappella community chorus of around 45 voices, offered a diverse holiday program in the Green Room on Friday night. They are well-rehearsed & produce a beautiful, blended sound. They sing with great pride. Their director Lynne Morrow leads with a clear beat & gives hints rather than dictates. The centerpiece of the 1st half was the West Coast Premier of David Lang's The Little Match Girl Passion. It is a 40 minute series of lugubrious numbers interspersed with the text of the story, intoned in short, halting phrases. The atmosphere is one of unrelieved yet ethereal suffering. The chorus did a fine job sustaining the mood & made a silky, wafting sound. Everett Q. Tilden provided the discrete percussion accompaniment, playing bass drum, xylophone, crotales, chimes & at one point a rusty bucket. One of the sopranos had a dizzy spell at the end of the final narrative. A colleague helped to her to the floor, though this did not impede the progress of the piece.

Bass Dale Engle opened the 2nd half by singing the spiritual Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child from one end of the room. Mr. Engle has a way with low notes. The major work of the 2nd half was a clean, well-prepared rendition of Britten's Hymn to St. Cecilia. The audience joined in the program's final 2 Christmas carols, & Ms. Morrow complimented us on our singing. The attendees seemed to be largely friends & family of the choristers, giving the event a warm, community feeling. Cookies & punch were served afterwards, & I was personally encouraged to come back for their next concert featuring Bach.

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