Famed Cathedral Choir to sing at St. Martin’s Church

Local Life September 20, 2013 0 Comments

Dirk Brosse

by Michael Caruso

One of the region’s most distinctive musical ensembles will be paying Chestnut Hill a visit Sunday, Sept. 29. The Cathedral Choir School of Delaware will be singing at the 11:15 a.m. service of the Episcopal Church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. According to the church’s music director, Erik Meyer, the choir will sing Eleanor Daley’s “Missa Brevis,” the “In Paradisum” movement from Gabriel Faure’s “Missa Requiem” and Farrant’s “Lord, for Thy Tender Mercy’s Sake.”

Meyer recounted the Cathedral Choir’s recent history: “The Episcopal Cathedral of St. John in Wilmington, Delaware, closed a couple of years ago because the attendance was so poor. The choir school, however — about 40 boys and girls plus professional and amateur adult choristers — was thriving, so the cathedral’s endowment money was rolled into preserving the school. They now sing throughout the entire region.” The choir will make a return visit to Chestnut Hill to sing at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Sunday, March 23, 2014, 10:30 a.m.

Established in 1883, the Cathedral Choir is a fine example of the Anglican tradition of choral singing in the U.S. The Episcopal Church is the principal American province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, founded upon the Church of England, which broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the middle of the 16th century. From the late Middle Ages onward, the cathedrals in England — Roman Catholic before the Reformation and Church of England afterward — have maintained musical establishments that are among the most acclaimed in the world.

The choir has toured extensively, both nationally and internationally. In 2003 it toured England, where it sang at services in Exeter Cathedral, Truro Cathedral and Buckfast Abbey. The choir has also performed in Puccini’s opera, “Turandot,” for OperaDelaware and has sung at a Phillies baseball game.

St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church will present its own first Choral Evensong of the season 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6. The music to be performed includes Henry Smart’s “Magnificat” and “Nunc Dimittis” in B-flat and J.S. Bach’s Motet, “Lobet den Hern.”

CHAMBER ORCHESTRA

The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia opened its 2013-14 season Sunday afternoon, Sept. 15, in the Kimmel Center’s Perelman Theater. With Dirk Brosse on the podium, the region’s premier chamber orchestra performed Mendelssohn’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” his “Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major.”

The afternoon’s finest playing was heard in the Beethoven. The Symphony No. 4 is a frequently overlooked work because it comes between the groundbreaking “Eroica” Symphony No. 3 and the overwhelmingly famous Symphony No. 5. And yet the Fourth Symphony, when taken on its own terms, is a concisely conceived and fully formed masterpiece.

The concert opened with an evocative and enchanting reading of Mendelssohn’s Overture to “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Mendelssohn’s orchestration, particularly his use of the clarinet, was a harbinger of the romantic movement, and Brosse elicited playing that captured the score’s air of magic that inhabits Shakespeare’s comedy of misdirected love.

H.J. Lim was the soloist in Mendelssohn’s “Piano Concerto in G minor.” Once a staple of the concerto repertoire, it nowadays sounds more like a dated, period piece of “sound and fury, signifying nothing,” to borrow a phrase from Shakespeare. Lim’s playing rendered the score no favors by offering up a shrill tone and rushed finger work.

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