Arts & Culture

Choral concert entertains, enthralls

By
Contributing Writer
Monday, April 19, 2010

The Brown University Chorus filled Sayles Hall with songs of worship and love Saturday night. Led by conductor Frederick Jodry, senior lecturer in music and director of choral activities, the chorus entranced a large audience. Featuring five works from various genres, the hour-long concert elicited thunderous applause and a standing ovation.
Jodry said he was “delighted” by the way the performance went, adding that the audience was great and very responsive.

The chorus, which is composed of 50 singers and is one of Brown’s oldest performing groups, began the concert with Sergei Rachmaninoff’s “All-Night Vigil,” a Christian song of worship. The performance started off peacefully but quickly rose to a crescendo, giving the audience its first glimpse of the chorus’s musical abilities.

Robert Evett’s “The Mask of Cain” and Stephen Chatman’s “There is Sweet Music,” based on the poetry of Alfred Tennyson, Percey Shelley and William Blake, followed. The latter featured Sabrina Skau ’12 on oboe, an addition that complemented the vocals. The oboe’s sounds and the chorus’s voices resulted in a piece that celebrated the glory of music and wonders of life, such as “the dimpling stream” and “the painted birds laughing in the shade.”

A light-hearted choreographed piece, Kirby Shaw’s “Plenty Good Room,” closed the first half of the concert, which preceded a recognition of graduating seniors.

Jodry said it was imperative to choose a “wide array of music” so that the audience didn’t lose interest, since the performance was so long. The first three pieces were distinctly heavier than the fourth, which carried a more whimsical tone and “made the audience grin,” accomplishing its purpose of keeping the audience engaged, Jodry said. 
The second half of the concert featured a performance of “Narcissus,” a cantata written and arranged by James Woodman. Normally, a composer is responsible only for arranging the music, but Woodman also “wrote the poem itself,” Jodry said.

The composition, divided into nine movements, tells the ancient Greek myth of Narcissus, the child of river god Cephisus and nymph Leiriope. Narcissus was born with “strength and youth and grace unflawed,” as the song goes, and was sought after by all. The song culminates when Narcissus — the source of the word “narcissism” — becomes infatuated with his own reflection in a pool created by goddess of revenge Nemesis. He eventually vanishes because of this actual and metaphorical “endless stream of desire,” the program’s synopsis reads. After the piece’s last movement, the audience exploded into a standing ovation.

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