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Carmina Burana & Chichester Pslams

posted Nov 1, 2017, 9:55 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Nov 1, 2017, 9:55 AM ]
This Friday, November 3
rd, I’m singing Carmina Burana with the National Chorale at Lincoln Center. Still the most popular secular choral work of the 21st century, the original Latin, German and French manuscript is a collection of several hundred poems with topics still relevant today: the fickleness of fortune and wealth; the heightened moods springtime evokes; and the pleasure and perils of drinking, gluttony, gambling and lust. Written in the 11th – 13th centuries by traveling students and ex-monks that had left their studies to pursue life’s pleasures, it remained undiscovered in a Bavarian Benedictine monastery until 1803. In the mid-1930’s, composer Carl Orff set 24 of these poems to music for chorus, soloists, orchestra or two pianos, and 21 percussion instruments! The movement that opens and closes the piece, Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi (“O Fortuna”) has been widely used in films; television; commercials and by sports teams.

Also on the program is Chichester Psalms by Leonard Bernstein. Popular ever since the composer himself conducted its sold-out world premiere at Philharmonic Hall in 1965, it presents a unique blend of Biblical Hebrew verse and Christian choral singing tradition; a musical depiction of the composer’s hope for brotherhood and peace in Israel during a turbulent time in the young country’s history. Each of its three movements contains one complete Psalm plus excerpts from another. It's tuneful and tonal, featuring modal melodies and unusual meters, jazzy and contemporary yet accessible. Bernstein himself characterized it as “popular in feeling,” with “an old-fashioned sweetness along with its more violent moments.”

To purchase tickets to hear these two masterpieces, call (212) 333-5333 or visit nationalchorale.com.