My chorus recently completed a memorable performance of A German Requiem by Johannes Brahms. An amazing 125 voice chorus, two exceptional vocal soloists, and an excellent 43 piece orchestra (comprised primarily of members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) combined in performing one of the greatest musical compositions ever created. So, one might say, where do we go from there? Since The Michael O’Neal Singers is an ensemble which prides itself on performing a wide repertoire, perhaps it should not come as a surprise that we transitioned rather smoothly the next week into rehearsals of music from “The Great American Songbook,” otherwise known as popular or jazz standards, especially from the decades of the 30s, 40s. and 50s.
So, after weeks of concentrating on the sublime and challenging qualities of Brahms, we now find ourselves immersed in the songs of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Richard Rodgers and others. While I enjoy the change of pace this music offers, I do think it is important to approach these composers with a serious appreciation and respect for what they have added to the American musical landscape. Popular music can touch lives in profound ways and it is the insensitive serious musician who fails to recognize that fact. Therefore, it is my hope that our May 13 performance of Ballads, Blues, and Broadway will remind us of music’s enormous capacity to enrich lives.
Filed under: Choral experiences | Tagged: A German Requiem, and Broadway, atlanta symphony orchestra, Ballads, Blues, Brahms, Duke Ellington, George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Johnny Mercer, MOS, The Great American Songbook | Leave a Comment »