No high resolution image exists...
Image by: Kati Garner The chic clubs and restaurants along the K Street Mall were swamped Saturday evening with young adult revelers in extravagant costumes. Yet amid the high spirited chatter of zombies and ghouls, witches and vixens, a more sedate group of celebrants slowly gathered in front of the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacramento, intent on a different sort of transformation.
Classical music lovers had been eagerly awaiting the first Stained Glass Concert, “Canticles of Praise,” which opened the Sacramento Choral Society season.
The beautiful cathedral, built in 1889 and renovated in 2005, was packed with a diverse audience. It was a setting worthy of the magnificent sacred music to be performed.
Some 170 members of the choir entered to the strains of the Jongen Chorale, "Quatre Pieces pour Orgue" played on the magnificent pipe organ by David Deffner, who played throughout the program. Image by: Kati Garner
Conductor Donald Kendrick took the podium and raised his elegant hands, and the chorus launched immediately into the stunning 1965 composition “Chichester Psalms” by famed American composer Leonard Bernstein.
The three movements of this remarkable work encompass three complete psalms and excerpts from three more. It began joyfully and grandly, with exuberant voices singing in challenging 7/4 meter and punctuated by percussion.
Also featured throughout the work was a quartet including soprano Rachel Sprague, alto Ellen Simonin, tenor Marin Pavliuc and bass Tim Mascarinas.
The second movement included the beloved 23rd Psalm in its entirety and was sung with clarity and pure simplicity by boy soprano Jack Baer, with the entire chorus providing explosive counterpoint to sing excerpts from Psalm 2. The audience was transfixed by the contrast of vocal intensity and the quietly soaring soprano. (Image by: Kati Garner)
The final movement demonstrated Bernstein’s mastery of understatement, with a quietly intense choral passage that draws all the power of the ancient texts into pinpoint focus.
Belgian composer Joseph Jonger wrote his 1945 “Mass” to express his gratitude for the release of his young son from Buchenwald. It is a lyrical and more traditional work, gentle and poignant yet powerful and exultant. The chorus was supported by the SCSO Brass Ensemble throughout the six movements. The Benedictus was particularly moving, and beautifully sung.
The program concluded with “Let the People Praise Thee,” composed by William Mathias in 1981 to honor Lady Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London. Image by: Kati Garner
The Sacramento Choral Society continues to delight audiences with each successive season. Kendrick doesn’t hesitate to introduce new and challenging works to the public, and the chorus is professional and dedicated to their art. The musicians who play with the SCS Orchestra are of the highest caliber, and each performance is a discrete jewel in the crown of Sacramento arts.
The season continues with the traditional “Home for the Holidays” concerts at the Mondavi Center on Dec. 10 and 11.
For more information on the Sacramento Choral Society and Orchestra, including schedule and ticket information, please visit sacramentochoral.com.