Monday, March 14, 2011

Musica Sacra review

I saw two great choral concerts this past weekend! The first was by Musica Sacra. Full disclosure; they offered me a pair of comps, which I was delighted to accept.

Musica Sacra did a program called "Double-Takes: One Text, Two Perspectives," and it was highly enjoyable. The star of the program was, well, the program. I just love the way director Mary Beekman programs all her concerts; they are always interesting and clever, but every piece is also programmed out of love. It always makes for a great mix.

In this case we had two composers each setting one text. For example, there was an Ave Maria by Josquin, and the Ave Maria by Biebl. Musica Sacra did something very smart, which was to hand out ballots in the program, and have everyone vote for their favorite setting of a given text. This meant that everyone in the audience ended up extremely invested in the concert. Results have not been tallied yet, but I am keeping an eye on their Facebook page for the results! For the record, my choices were:

I preferred the Ginastera "O Vos Omnes" over the Correa.
I preferred the Josquin "Ave Maria" over the Biebl (but that's a hard call.)
I preferred the Allegri "Miserere Mei" over the Brahms' "Schaffe in Mir, Gott."
I preferred the Tomkins "When David Heard" over the Whitacre.
I preferred the Bach "Lobet den Herrn" over the Monteverdi "Laudate Dominum" (another tough call.)

See? I am still invested! They had great audience turnout, a fun reception with a raffle; that group is just doing everything right, in my opinion. The energy in the room was high and positive.

And the music? Extremely well-done! The sound was very clean and well-blended; everything was strong, and there were no pieces that sounded unsteady. Particularly impressive was the soprano section. Beekman has some very strong sopranos, and chose a program that showed them off well, with lots of different solos that were all excellently sung. Particular kudos to the high soprano soloist in the Allegri "Miserere Mei," whose high notes were always dead-on, every time. Their next concert is called "Love, Lust and Laudations: Flemish Choral Music of the High Renaissance" on May 14, and based on this last concert, I definitely recommend going.

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