Because conductor Steven Schick is a champion of contemporary music, I thought Verdi might be too traditional...
  • Because conductor Steven Schick is a champion of contemporary music, I thought Verdi might be too traditional...
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As the text “libera me” hung in the air no one applauded. The tone evaporated and still no one applauded. I was sitting on my hands because I was caught up in the sacred feminine and it’s power to liberate and redeem.

I finally came to and began clapping as did the rest of the audience. We clapped for a long time.

The objects of our applause were the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus, the San Diego Master Chorale, and the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus, and their performance of Verdi’s Requiem on Saturday, March 18. Steven Schick conducted.

Video:

The Great SoKool Experience No 5...

...the Sacred Feminine and Verdi's Requiem

...the Sacred Feminine and Verdi's Requiem

Regarding maestro Schick, in my opinion he walks on water as a conductor. I’ve yet to see anything he has conducted that was less than stellar. I wasn’t sure going into the Verdi because Schick is a champion of contemporary music and I thought Verdi might be too traditional.

I was wrong. Maestro didn’t miss a beat all night. The pacing, phrasing, tone, and spirit of the performance were spot on. Perhaps we get too caught up in restricting conductors to their specialities. A dedicated and talented conductor has no limits.

The quartet of soloists was strong, except — sigh — the tenor. When Robert Breault was true to what his voice was capable of, it was quite good. When he backed off the voice and tried to make it sound delicate the voice became uneven and struggled.

I adored the soprano Ariana Strahl. In the concluding section of the requiem, the Libera Me, she allowed a steely almost authoritarian quality to enter her chest register. The effect made me want to hear her sing it again in ten years. I can only imagine how incredible this emerging artist will be at that point.

I also appreciated Strahl’s willingness to give us some “arm-ography” — meaning every now and then she punctuated her performance with a gesture from her arm. I loved it. The honesty of her emotion added to my experience as an audience member.

There is a moment in the Rex Tremendae when everything stops and the bass soloist sings “salva me.” The moment can be destroyed if the bass makes it about his vocal abilities instead of salvation. Colin Ramsey chose salvation and it added a depth to this performance that I found overwhelming.

I have included my very first video review on YouTube. In the video I get to talk in more depth about the soloists, the chorus, the orchestra, and get choked up regarding Ramsey and “Salva Me.” Give it a look, leave a comment, and maybe even subscribe.

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Comments

monaghan March 20, 2017 @ 4:47 p.m.

Some words for Verdi's thundering tympani in his operatic Requiem are in order. Those hellish moments are truly terrifying, coming as they do after quiet heavenly passages. It's a great work, and it was a fine performance with a huge chorus, good soloists and always responsive orchestra. Mandeville Auditorium was packed.

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Garrett Harris March 20, 2017 @ 6:03 p.m.

Oh yea. He was beating the hell out of the percussion up there in the left corner.

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SharonBW March 25, 2017 @ 6:18 a.m.

Note: The bass drums were being beat on by a woman! Her name is Fiona and she is AMAZING!

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