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A classic story retold

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By The Staff

In the Los Alamos Choral Society and Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra’s winter concert Jan. 27 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, under the direction of Mary Badarak, the Oratorio “Elijah” by Felix Mendelssohn was presented.Many members of the chorus, now numbering 61, have sung this familiar work numerous times. The chorus all wore white shirts, and the risers accommodated chairs.The performance was more than two hours long, and it was felt necessary to cut the full work down from nearly three hours and also make it tell a more coherent story, as was the composer’s interest, contrary to the wish of his pastor librettist to make it “a sermon in music.”Friction over this concept delayed the project for more than 10 years, and led to the inclusion of such movements as familiar tenor arias “ye people, rend your hearts, and not garments” and “If with all your hearts, you truly seek me,” which were omitted here as being preachy and not furthering the story.Some editing of the printed text was noticed, no doubt to make it fit on four pages of the program.The result was indeed a good story, nicely presented, with fine results all around. The large audience received it very enthusiastically.Baritone Loren Jacobsen sang the part of Elijah, and Rene LeClaire sang the tenor solos. Many members of the chorus sang shorter solos and sub-choruses.Of special note was the small part of a youth, sung perfectly by young Richard Schmidt, and with admirable demeanor.The concert opened with a brief prologue by Elijah, followed by a rather long overture.When the large chorus entered, it made a splendid sound, in no danger of being masked by the orchestra.Diction was fair, and easily followed the printed program with the noted omissions. Diction of the soloists was generally good.All told, this was a very fine concert, and I felt that the editing to tell a story without interruptions was quite in order, and a credit to Badarak’s judgment.I was pleased to find that Kay Manley, an early director of the choral society from 1948-1950 and 1960-1962, now 100 years old was able to attend the concert.The choral society will present their spring concert at 3 p.m. June 1 at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The program will be called “The Splendor of Chorus and Brass,” and will feature works of Brach, Bruckner, Brahms and Gabrieli.