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Subject: Re: Church of the Transfiguration Presents Modern Masterpieces
From: Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Jon Goldberg <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 24 Jun 2017 21:08:46 -0400
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I'd love to add a few observations:

Technically, Schubert did not write what has come to be known as his setting of the Ave 
Maria. His text setting was in German, and part of a small song cycle of poems by Sir 
Walter Scott (translated into German). The title of the song is "Ellens Gesang III," and 
although the first two words are indeed "Ave Maria," the text is not that of the common 
Latin prayer. The Latin liturgical text (and subsequent translations from the Latin) were 
added later, and as far as I know, NOT by Schubert. 

I might quibble with the statement that Bernstein wrote his "Mass" as a memorial to JFK. 
He wrote the theatre piece for the opening of the Kennedy Center in 1971. Yes, the Center 
was in part a memorial to JFK, but I don't think that the rather controversial "Mass" was 
written to directly honor the president. In that sense, it was a daring choice of subject - a 
theatre piece using a celebration of a Catholic mass to ultimately question the Celebrant's 
own belief in God and religion - and also a piece with some definite and timely anti-war 
messages (particularly in the Agnus Dei - which of course leads to the moment where the 
Celebrant smashes the sacraments to the ground in desperation, followed by a veritable 
mad scene where he questions the whole ritual). In that sense, the piece would up as more 
of an indictment of Nixon than it ever would have been a tribute to Kennedy. 

Also, it might be fun to know that the music for that dramatically violent "Why Do The 
Nations Rage" section of the Chichester Psalms actually had its origin in a song cut from 
West Side Story, called "Mix," originally sung by the two warring street gangs. Which 
makes its use for that particular section of the Chichester Psalms particularly interesting. 


On Sat, 24 Jun 2017 00:03:50 -0400, Judy Pantano <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>Church of the Transfiguration Presents Modern Masterpieces 
>An Arnold Schwartz Memorial Concert
>
>A review by Nino Pantano
>
>On the evening of Friday, June 9th at the Church of the Transfiguration (also known as 
The 
>Little Church Around the Corner) on 29th Street in New York City, there was a 
>performance of Modern Masterpieces, a memorial concert to Arnold Schwartz (1905-
>1979), patron and benefactor. Schwartz was born in Brooklyn and together with his wife 
>Marie were acclaimed for their generous donations to the arts. The magnificent church 
>organ was donated by his wife and named in his memory.
>
>Dr. Claudia Dumschat, organist and music director of the Church of the Transfiguration, 
>planned a most ambitious and enlightening program for this concert, which included the 
>Transfiguration Choir of Men and Boys, Girls Choir and Camerata plus the The 
>Transfiguration excellent Instrumental Ensemble, consisting of Joy Plaisted on the harp, 
>James Kennerley at the organ and Jared Soldiviero on the timpani. The great conductor 
>composer Leonard Bernstein (1918-1990) worked with the Transfiguration Boys Choir in 
>1961. At that time, the choir sang and traveled extensively with some of the musical 
>giants of that era.
>
>Opening remarks were made by the newly appointed and youthful Rev. Father John 
David 
>van Dooren. Father van Dooren, a man who cherishes the importance of music and 
>culture in our lives, cordially welcomed one and all to this musical celebration. The 
>program opened with "Rejoice in the Lamb" by British composer Benjamin Britten (1913-
>1976) is based on the poem "Jubilate Agno" by Christopher Smart, who was a mad poet 
>often institutionalized. This poem is about cat and mouse. "My Cat Jeoffry" - a precursor 
>to "Cats"? The libretto rejoices in the beauty of his cat Jeoffry and his female mouse and 
>all of creation. "Rejoice in the lamb" was sung by Enlun Yin soprano, Joe Redd alto, Ben 
>Thomas tenor and Alan Henriquez baritone, accompanied by the Transfiguration Choir of 
>Men and Boys, and made for a delightful treat to Britten's haunting, unique and flowing 
>output.
>
>Three Ave Maria settings followed. Everyone is familiar with Ave Maria by Franz Schubert 
>or the Bach-Gounod transcriptions by Leopold Stokowski, but there are many others. 
>Enrico Caruso recorded an Ave Maria by Percy Kahn in 1913 with Mischa Elman on the 
>violin. Giuseppe Verdi composed a beautiful Ave Maria for Desdemona in his late 
>masterpiece "Otello" (1887).
> 
>Vladimir Vavilov, using notes supposedly from Giulio Caccini (1551-1616), wrote an Ave 
>Maria in 1970 of poignant tranquility. Composer Bill Heigen, who sang with the Choir 
>years ago, wrote an Ave Maria. The Transfiguration Girls Choir sang this with great 
>reverence. The soft singing made one look at the beautiful grotto in the church devoted 
to 
>Mary. Heigen dedicated this piece to the choir. The Ave Maria by Franz Beibl rounded out 
>this trio, sung a capella by the gentlemen of the choir in a robust, solemn and 
>praiseworthy manner, evoking the a capella group "All The Kings Men". Ms.Claudia 
>Dumschat led these ascending prayers with a steady hand. The harp of Joy Plaisted 
made 
>the earthbound audience become heaven bound and on the side of the angels.
>
>The second part of the program began with soprano Sara Paar accompanied on the piano 
>by Anabelinda de Castro in a series of Leonard Bernstein songs entitled "I Hate Music!". 
In 
>"My Name is Barbara," a little girl seeks recognition despite her young age, saucily and 
>defiantly sung in a strong soubrette soprano. "Jupiter Has Seven Moons," "I Hate Music" 
>and "I'm a Person Too" are some of the sprightly tunes that evoked the insouciance of "I 
>Feel Pretty " from Bernstein's masterpiece West Side Story. Ms. Paar, will be without 
peer 
>in such roles as Nannetta in Verdi's Falstaff and other roles in the lyric repertory. Ms. 
>Paar is both beguiling and enchanting! Anabelinda de Castro was her sprightly and 
>dexterous accompanist.
>
>Joe Redd, alto, sang "A Simple Song" from Bernstein's "Mass" which was written to honor 
>the slain President John F. Kennedy, whose birth centenary we celebrate this year. Mr. 
>Redd has a warm amber quality to his flexible voice and he negotiated the vocal terrain 
>smoothly. 
>
>In early December 1963, Leonard Bernstein received a letter from the Very Reverend 
>Walter H. Hussey, Dean of the Cathedral if Chichester in Sussex, England requesting a 
>composition for the Cathedral's 1965 music festival involving the setting of Psalm Two, 
>answering the question "why do the nations rage?" From the time of Chichester Psalms 
>sold out world premiere at Philharmonic Hall in London on July 15th 1965, it was 
apparent 
>that Bernstein had created a magically unique blend of biblical Hebrew verse and 
>Christian choral tradition - a musical depiction of the composer's hope for brotherhood 
>and peace. From "Make a Joyful Noise Unto the Lord" to "The Lord is My Shepard," this 
>piece, both jazzy and traditional, has old fashioned sweetness and more than a touch of 
>brashness.
>
>Chichester Psalms is more akin to Carl Orff's Carmina Burana than to Verdi's Requiem, 
>yet like a pigeon and a dinosaur, they are part of the evolution of musical sound. The 
>singers were Luciano Pantano treble, Christina Kay soprano, Tessoro Estrella soprano, Joe 
>Redd alto, Ben Thomas tenor and Alan Henriquez baritone. All of them worked so hard to 
>make it look easy. My grandson Luciano Pantano used his boy treble fearlessly and his 
>voice rang out loud and clear in his solo as he sang in Hebrew in Chichester Psalms - 
>Movement 11 (Psalm 23 and 2:1-4). We are very proud of him and his sister Leeza, who 
>sings in the Girls Choir also as a treble.
>
>Dr. Claudia Dumschat was truly the Maestro Supreme, conjuring up all the power and 
>majesty of this great work. The superb organist James Kennerley made his instrument 
>sing and soar! I thought of the great Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) playing his 
organ 
>in the jungles of Lambaréné in Gabon, Africa on his mission to humanity. Joy Plaisted on 
>the heavenly harp brought back memories of our mutual friend the late beloved harp 
>master Dulcie Barlow.
>
>Chichester Psalms is a work of gentle fierceness and a plea for peace. It combines the old 
>testament of righteousness and the new, of mercy.
>
>Leonard Bernstein is buried not far from our home in Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn. It 
>is said that when Bernstein's funeral procession arrived for the burial, the working crews 
>in the streets of Brooklyn applauded in tribute.The S.R.O audience also applauded this 
>work from the master.
>
>The reception afterwards in the courtyard ensured us of good conversation, food and 
>libation. We were happy to "meet and greet" Claudia Dumschat, Rev. Father John David 
>van Dooren, who expressed his enthusiasm for such evenings as this, Stage Director 
>(Amahl) Richard Olson, the singers, musicians and all. Our son Marcello, his wife 
Tatyana, 
>her parents from Omsk, Russia, Nikolay and Lubov Klitsenko were all there to listen and 
>reap praise. Nikolay is a bayan (Russian accordion) master, Lubov, a choral director at 
>their school in Russia, and their daughter Tatyana was also a chorus conductor. Our son 
>Marcello plays the drums, my wife Judy sang in school choirs and I was "The Boy Caruso 
>of Brooklyn"- is it any wonder there's a song in our hearts?
>
>On the grave of the great English American Maestro Leopold Stokowski, a Bach expert 
>and pioneer of American music (1882-1977) (Fantasia), is the inscription "Music is the 
>Voice of the All." Some thought this might have been a misprint but Maestro Stokowski, 
>whose long career began at St. Bartholomew Church as an organist and choirmaster in 
>New York, is correct.  It was something he would have thought universal and proper.
>
>We all applaud Maestro Dr. Claudia Dumschat, music director and organist, for this 
>special splendid evening on a warm, balmy June night and thank her for reminding us so 
>magnificently that "Music IS the Voice of the All"!
>
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