Monday, November 10, 2008

In Memoriam - Concert for Barbara Thornton

What a rare experience this concert in Berlin was. The music was fabulous, except for copious amounts of annoying pflegm under my vocal chords my voice was in good form, the group of singers worked well and efficiently together and sounded amazing, the acoustics in the church were astounding and the occasion for the concert was very meaningful to me and a few of us singing.

This was the program:

*Alma Redemptoris Mater - Antiphon, anonymous (10th cent.)
*Motet- Anima mea liquefacta est/Deschendit in ortum meum/Alma - Montpellier Codex
*Eya, mater fidelium - Codex Las Huelgas
*O frondens virga - Hildegard von Bingen
*Motet- Ex illustri - Codex Las Huelgas
*O quam magnum miraculum - Hildegard von Bingen (with solos by yours truly)
*Ave, generosa - Hildegard von Bingen
*O vos imitatores - Hildegard von Bingen
*Motet- Ave,regina/Alma redemptoris mater/Alma - Codex Las Huelgas
*Eterni numinis - Codex Las Huelgas
*Spiritus sanctus - Hildegard von Bingen
*In exitu Israel - Psalm 113
*Quis dabit capiti meo - Codex Las Huelgas
*O monialis concio - Codex Las Huelgas
*Motet- Ave, virgo/Ave, gloriosa/Domino - Codex Las Huelgas
*Nunc gaudeant - Hildegard von Bingen
*O viridissima virga - Hildegard von Bingen (with solos by me)
*Motet- O Maria maris stella/O maria virgo davitica/Et veritate - Codex Las Huelgas

The singers were:
Amy Green (Student of Barbara Thornton's 1996-98/Elysium/Vox Nostra/Diadema),
Susanne Hammer (Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Ellen H√ľnigen (Vox Nostra),
Lucia Reichelt-Pahn (Sequentia 1996 - 1998),
Diane Severson (Sequentia 1997-99/Elysium),
Allegra Silbiger (Sequentia 1997-99/Elysium/Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Anja Simon (Diadema/Vox Nostra),
Susanne Wilsdorf (Vox Nostra/Diadema).

We had 4 rehearsals before the concert and there was no rehearsal where all 8 of us were present. In fact, I think the most we ever were at one rehearsal was 5. Allegra and I were the unifying factor. That said, as you can see from the list above Allegra, Amy and I have sung a lot together, and the others, save Lucia, also sing together a lot. I know Susanne from conservatory in Bremen and Allegra, Lucia, Amy and I all have extensive experience in the oral tradition that is borne of having worked with Barbara. (If you are wondering who Barbara Thornton is, see my previous post "Concert in Berlin" or google her!) So, even though we had never sung together as a group before, we all had extensive experience singing this type of music and singing together in part. Everything just fell into place and we created this powerful, lovely, unified sound. It was an amazing experience to feel Barbara's legacy live through us as singers. What a gift. I wish we had a recording of it.

The church was St.-Johannes-Evangelist in Berlin-Mitte. It's stuck on a little street off Oranienburger Strasse (Auguststrasse) with buildings plastered to each side. The interior is huge and cavernous and empty (they have exhibitions and concerts there only), built in a neo-romanesque style. The reverb lasted a full six seconds, but unlike the Speyer Cathedral the sound remains pure and doesn't swim. The text and the musical line remain pure and understandable. Incredible. We sang from various points in the church - mostly from in front of the altar, but also from the side and the rear balconies as well as from both sides at once (for the antiphonal psalm).

There were possible 40 people at the concert. Not a lot, but it was a very attentive audience (even the 10 year old was rapt!) and I'm just happy when the audience numbers more than the musicians on stage! It's a shame, but then we did it to honor Barbara's life and work. I think we achieved that and then some.


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