Age ain’t nothing but a number

Audiences all ages can make meaningful contributions to music criticism. Here’s a review by Emma, age 18, who attended “In Thoughts, Our Dreams” at Jordan Hall this past May:

Last night, my mother and I went to see the Cantata Singers at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The conductor’s name is David Hoose and he conducted very well, so that all the singers blended together and sounded beautiful. There were seven 20th century pieces on the program.

The first piece was “Invocation.” It was originally composed by Charles Fussell, and was arranged for two pianos and chorus by David Hoose. The piano part of the piece was somewhat dramatic, and the chorus was a little quieter, then slowly increased in volume. The speed was moderate, and the tone grew to be very dramatic before ending.

The second piece was “Some Thoughts on Keats and Coolidge,” composed by Earl Kim. The piece was split up into five different parts: “Frost at Midnight,” “Ode to Psyche,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” “Shed No Tear-O Shed no Tear,” and “To Autumn.” These pieces are all extremely similar in tempo , volume, rhythm, and tone, and were all sung a cappella. They all sounded quiet and somber, and were sung very beautifully and peacefully. Earl Kim’s music seems reduced to the very minimum.

The third piece was “Four-Handed Sonata for Piano,” composed by Harold Shapero, and performed by David Kopp and Rodney Lister. The movement performed was “Very Slowly-Moderately Fast.” The slow part’s tone was moderately quiet, and then as it got faster, the volume progressed. When the piece started to speed up it became dramatic, before it quieted and slowed down as it ended. Strangely, the first movement of this piece was on the first half of the program. The last two movements were on the second part. At the end, the composer took a bow from the back of Jordan Hall. He is over 90 years old.

The next piece was probably the most interesting- “Scene from a movie part 3: The Twenty-sixth dream.” This was composed by Earl Kim and featured two soloists from the chorus: Mark Andrew Cleveland and Karyl Ryczek. Mr. Cleveland did the majority of the solo. He shifted a lot between low and high volume and mostly was calm and dream-like, as was the chorus, which blended well together. The tone became somewhat angry and negative at times and the soprano, Karl Ryczek, was also very beautiful as she sang her line. There is a lot of arguing and anger in this song, and it tells a story. It reminded me of a TV opera. Everyone was dramatic while singing to illustrate the dialogue of the story before slowing down as the song ended.

“The Annunciation,” by Rodney Lister came next. This was also very peaceful and moderate in volume and tone, followed by: the second two movements of “The Four-Handed Sonata for Piano; Slow and fast.” (Harold Shapero.) The volume of this piece was moderate and over time became louder. It reminded me of the kind of music you would hear in a movie when a dramatic scene is about to happen. It becomes faster and more dramatic before slowing down and coming to a close.

The last piece was “In the Beginning,” composed by Aaron Copland. This piece uses the text from Genesis, telling the story of how God created the earth. It was a cappella and featured a soloist named Janna Baty, a mezzo-soprano. She blended very well with the chorus. The piece over time becomes more and more dramatic, as it moves toward the 7th day.  The effect is very powerful, like heaven. As the piece finishes, it becomes powerful and overall was a wonderful finale to the concert.

Overall, I enjoyed the Cantata Singers very much. The chorus was so beautiful and sang so perfectly together, as well as the soloists and pianists. David Hoose did a wonderful job as the conductor, and it is clear that the singers worked very hard to prepare for this performance. I hope to see them perform again sometime in the future.

2 responses to “Age ain’t nothing but a number

  1. Carola Emrich-Fisher

    This is wonderful! Did the young woman write this for a school music class assignment? We need more reflective audience members like her!

  2. It was a review for a certificate program at the All Newton Music School — In addition to a jury, several recitals, and another concert review – she plays the violin. It was truly an astoundingly wonderful concert!

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