NYChoirgirl gave a wonderful performance on Saturday evening, with the Dessoff choir. It was her second performance with this really super choir, and while I found their last performance, at Carnegie Hall really thrilling, I especially enjoyed this performance because the focus was so much more on the choir than the last one was.
The venue was St. Bartholomew's Church, and it set the perfect atmosphere with its gold dome and spectacular stained glass. The accoustics were wonderful, and the choir made full use of that, exhibiting all the subtelty, strength and clarity of their sound with Gerald Finzi's In Terra Pax (Op. 39, 1954) and Benjamin Britten's St. Nicolas (Op. 42, 1948). I must admit to being a particlar fan of the Finzi, where the composer's wonderful familiarity with the type of harmonic movement that is particularly beautiful with a full choral sound resulted in moments of absolutely sublime music in the hands of this skillful choir. The very last line: "And on earth peace, good will toward men" gave me goosebumps.
The Britten is perhaps more of a virtuosic work, requiring both stamina and clear articulation from the choir, who were in good form. I still have the rapid ascending meoldy of the second movement, in particular the clear, fresh womens' sound, interwoven with the deliberate incantation sung by a very sweet boy soloist, and the tenor soloist, running through my head. The moment when this incantation is taken over by the adult St. Nicolas from his child self is very moving, as is Nicolas' prayer in the fourth movement that God "Teach us to ask for less and offer more in gratitude to Thee."
All in all, it was a wonderful start to the Christmas season, with unusual, and very appropriate music that makes a nice change from the usual Christmas fare. I was so proud of NYChoirgirl. Her face was shining, and she looked so delighted to be singing. As one of her fellow chorister's pointed out, she looks especially angelic when she's singing.
So now we are less than a week away from our first performance together with the Stonewall Chorale, next Saturday, the 8th of December, at the Church of the Ascention. Do come and support us. I predict a good performance!