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Fifty singers from the Los Alamos Choral Society, with 18 singers from the Santa Fe Music Works offered three sacred works May 17 at the Methodist Church, under the direction of Dr. Mary Badarack, accompanied by Cindy Little, with organist Francis Meier and percussionist Kip Bishofberger in the Bernstein “Chichester Psalms.”
Although the Bernstein has become quite popular, I had only heard it over the radio, and didn’t know what to make of it, thanks to the text in Hebrew. Armed with the text and translation, I was able to appreciate it as a major composition.
The Hebrew text has numerous inflections, which fit the modern dance style of the music.
It includes six psalms: A verse from Psalm 108 as introduction, “Awake, psaltery and harp” and Psalm 100, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord all ye lands,” followed by Psalm 23, sung very beautifully by young soprano Richard Schmidt in counterpoint with the men’s chorus singing from Psalm 2, “Why do the nations rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?” In conclusion, the full chorus sang Psalm 131, “Lord, Lord, my heart is not haughty” and a verse of Psalm 133, “Behold how good, and how pleasant it is, for brethren to dwell together in unity.”
Second in the concert was an extraordinary work by the young Mozart, which uses only one line of “Misercordias Domini cantabo in aeternam” (The mercies of the Lord I will sing forever) in a wonderful tapestry of contrapuntal ideas.
After intermission, we heard the Haydn “Heligmesse No. 10 in B-flat.” This is also unusual in that each of the five sections of the mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus/Benedictus, Agnus Dei) was treated as a single unified movement, creating a virtual Choral Symphony, with much more development and counterpoint than was usual for the time. The chorus was well balanced throughout, and though a few errors were noted, a fine concert resulted. It must be noted that the space was very crowded, and no chairs could be provided, so the chorus had to stand for the entire concert.
The next concert will be on Jan. 24, with the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra, when two works by Vaughan Williams will be presented; “Five Mystical Songs” and “Dona Nobis Pacem.”
The latter is a favorite of mine, and I look forward to hearing it with orchestral accompaniment.