Master Chorale of South Florida launches fifth season
By Jack Zink
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
November 17, 2007
The Master Chorale of South Florida and the Boca Raton Symphonia once again made a fine pair this weekend, launching the Chorale's fifth season with "Gloria! Gloria! Gloria!", a highly varied trio of concert works for the Gloria of the traditional Christian Mass.
The program opened Friday in the vast, warmly reverberant Second Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, repeating Saturday at 8 p.m. at Boca Raton Community High School and Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Episcopal Trinity Cathedral near downtown Miami. Notably, these mark the last season under founder-director Jo-Michael Scheibe, who will exchange his role as director of choral studies at the University of Miami for a similar post at the University of Southern California next year.
Vivaldi's early 18th-century "Gloria," the oldest and best-known of the three, was the program's centerpiece shortly after intermission. It was written for the children's choir of the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, an orphanage for girls whose vocalism became internationally famous under his direction. Its 12 sections span nearly 30 minutes, and are adapted in large part from another "Gloria" he'd written earlier.
The Master Chorale and Boca Symphonia moved fluently through the cantata-like movments, from the devoutly quiet strength of the opening Gloria in Excelsis (Glory in the Highest), finding gravitas in the voices and strings for the fourth Gratias agimus tibi (We Give Thanks to Thee), and delivering flourish without unnecessary extravagance to closing Quoniam to Solus Sancturs (For Thou Only Are Most Holy) and Cum Sancto Spiritu (And With the Holy Ghost).
Vivaldi's work also was the primalry showcase for guest soloist, soprano Marvis Martin, notably for the Domine Deus (O Lord Our God) but also sopranos Kristen DiNonno and Ggail Burnaford in the Laudamus Te duet. Too, Alto Sophia Beharrie spun gracefully in the eighth section, Domine Deus with the Agnus Dei, among delicate support from cellos.
The opening orchestral fanfare of Poulenc's Gloria shook off the ensemble's jitters at the concert's start. The orchestra and chorus were led quickly by Sheibe through the shimmery, light and occasionally cheeky Laudamus Te (We Praise You). Martin's vivid soprano in the third movement, Domine Deus was trailed graciously by the clarinet (this theme also appears in a clarinet sonata of his). Commissioned by the Library of Congress' Koussevitsky Foundation, the work premiered in 1961 with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was a popular success while drawing criticism as being religiously scandalous through its pop humor and lightheartedness. Sheibe's touch as conductor brought out all the wit while demonstrating the work's joyous praisemaking.
British composer and conductor John Rutter wrote his Gloria for the Voices of Mel Olson in Omaha, Nebraska, and directed its premiere there in 1974. in three movements he described as being based on a Gregorian chant divided into three movements corresponding to a traditional symphony. As he did with Poulenc's "Gloria," Conductor Sheibe brought out the pop flavors of Rutter's piece but also showed the work's dedicated religious spirit in the alternating flourishes of the opening, the fluttering birdsong that moves through the orchestral voices early in the second, Andante movement, and the punchy phrasing that leads up to the finale's jubilation.
© 2007, South Florida Sun-Sentinel.