Greetings, my fellow port swillers!
Ol’ Robbo is back from his most recent travels safe and sound and has some choice vignettes about them to relay to you friends of the decanter in the near future. First, however, I must do a bit of gratuitous Proud Papa-ing.*
As regular friends of the decanter know, teh Middle Gel is a chorister at the Washington National Cathedral, now in the middle of her third year and her first as a senior chorister.
For these works, Mr. [Julian] Wachner, who is also a composer, assembled some 300 performers: the excellent Choir of Trinity Wall Street; the Trinity Youth Chorus; the Washington Chorus, an award-winning ensemble that Mr. Wachner also directs; the Boy and Girl Choristers of Washington National Cathedral Choir; and Novus NY, the Trinity Wall Street’s contemporary music orchestra, its ranks fortified for this demanding concert with extra players.
The pertinent meat re the choral work goes thusly:
For sheer terror in music, however, not much matches the most intense moments of [Alberto] Ginastera’s passion, which put all the evening’s performers onstage. Like the Bach passions, this one has a solo Evangelist who tells the story, not in recitative, as Bach does, but in Gregorian chant. (Thomas McCargar sang the Evangelist here, along with Geoffrey Silver as Pilate and Judas, and Scott Allen Jarrett as Jesus.)
Those who know Ginastera, who died in 1983 at 67, only from his earlier South American nationalist style work may be stunned to hear this passion, essentially a 12-tone score of gnashing dissonance and multilayered complexity. Yet much of the harmonic language sounds lushly chromatic, in an Expressionist vein. The piece’s most audacious element is its shrieking cinematic realism. Sometimes the choirs speak and sputter the lines; sometimes the music breaks into free-for-all bouts of hysteria.
Mr. Wachner led a viscerally dramatic performance. With this concert he signaled that next year, the centennial of Ginastera, Trinity Wall Street will present an extensive survey of the composer’s works. Adventure and ambition go hand in hand at Trinity Wall Street.
For what it’s worth, teh Middle Gel, who is, after all, ol’ Robbo’s child, despised the piece, which they also performed last week at a gala at the OAS for the strategic benefit of exposure to Big Shots at the Kennedy Center and the Washington Performing Arts Society. Although I would much rayther see her take the Emma Kirkby route, and have long thought that she was born to sing Susanna, all I could do was to remind her that Show-Biz often demands the performing of personally distasteful works and to point out that there are very, very few 15 year olds (or anyone else for that matter) who can boast that they’ve played Carnegie Hall.
Anyhoo, as noted, ol’ Robbo is one seriously proud papa.
* I hope that regular friends of the decanter will know by now that ol’ Robbo does not stick on side and that his enthusiasms for the successes of his progeny are genuinely heart-felt.
UPDATE: Teh Gel, who reads this blog even before the pixels dry, came in just now to correct me on one point: Teh Choristers did not perform this Carnegie Hall piece at the OAS last week, but instead served up some Mendelssohn there. Sounds to me like the OAS johnnies caught themselves a break!