Expression Sung and Danced
I HAVE ALWAYS meant to attend the Westminster Choir’s annual Spoleto performance, but have not gotten to it until this year. In the beautiful and acoustically brilliant setting of the Cathedral Church of St. Luke & St. Paul, this group of young singers from Rider University in Princeton New Jersey delivered beyond my expectations. Conducted by maestro Joe Miller, whose open smile spoke reams of adoration for this young and gifted group, they offered a rich variety of songs.
As his program notes said:
“This program is about questioning. Questioning how we understand the mystery of divine love. Questioning why we love those who do not love us. Questioning what it is about human nature that makes us keep striving for answers.”
The opener, Knowee, started with four female singers entering from the back wailing their lost son’s names with an urgency and fear that only this situation can present. It was followed by a pastoral choral section sung with peaceful expression and angelic sounds.
Another highlight was the pairing of two poems set to music: Flower of Beauty composed by John Clements and Newlyweds composed by Nathan Jones using a poem by Marjory Wentworth (see related story). The two songs about human love were deeply pure in sound and feeling. As I watched these young singers and saw the commitment to their art form, I realized there is no better education of the whole self in any curriculum than that of the performing arts.
Two ending songs that spoke to the heart were Shanandoah (James Erb) and So I’ll Sing With My Voice (Dominick Argento). This choral landscape that the voices painted was a portrait of the soul that comes only from this human sound. It was truly elevating to hear these untainted young voices. It gave me great hope for goodness that may still exist in the world today.
CBT Soars at Piccolo
I also attended the Charleston Ballet’s Brown Bag and Ballet performance in their King Street Studio Theater, happy again to be in a cool, dark, indoor place in the middle of a hot day as part of Piccolo’s packed list of events.
The program included three pieces that had been performed during their 2009/2010 season, but were still shining bright in this showcase of successful dances.
The first was Lark Ascending choreographed by Bruce Marks with music by Ralph Vaughn Williams. In this contemporary ballet, female soloist Andrea DeVries was framed by a five-male ensemble that created a wonderful backdrop of strength and design.
The piece was performed with elegant clarity by dancers who moved inspired by ascension. Their movements reached and extended beyond the body as they appeared to be floating and at times spiraling only to be uplifted again. Effortless lifts as DeVries encountered her fellow partners with dips and dives created sculpted tableaus, with the most stunning at the end as the ensemble lifted her in an attitude shape with birdlike arms that carried her heavenward.
The other gem of the concert was Bolero with choreography by Helena Baron to Ravel’s luminous and seductive score. Again, the company’s clean line and confident manner shined with a contained passion shown with staccato movements contrasted with sustained ones. The repetition of the score mirrored repetition of phrases that grew in numbers of dancers on stage and intensity of the performers until the full cast filled the stage reaching the level even of the shouting horns at the closing of the score.
Do not forget our town’s responsibility to support local artists and performers, and please make an effort to show your commitment to one of our important cultural groups.