Last night the Morgan State University Choir performed with one of the greatest musicians of our time - nine time grammy winner - Wynton Marsalis at the Music Center at Strathmore. We sang All Rise composed by Wynton Marsalis, originally commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, and written for the new millennium. The Morgan State Univeristy Choir sang the premiere with Wynton back in 1999. Morgan’s choir also sang the official recording of this piece in 2003 with the Los Angeles Symphony, so this performance was somewhat a reunion for the choir and Wynton.
The piece involves many different musical groups. Beyond the ninety members of the MSU Choir that sang, forty members of the Choral Arts Society of Washington and ten members of Chorale Le Chateau contributed to the Mass chorus. Two disparate instrumental groups were also part of the fabric of this composition: The National Philharmonic Orchestra from Montgomery County, and the Wynton’s own Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.
All Rise is as novel a composition as one would think Wynton Marsalis would create. There are twelve movements. No two movements alike in any way! When one hears this piece, you will notice a unique blend of classical compositional technique as well as the Louisiana Jazz influence, both which helped shape Wynton Marsalis’s career as he won Grammys in both classical and jazz recordings in the same year!
Richard Rogers was once quoted as stating how important it was to make sure that there was a tune that everyone could hum as they left the show. Well, this is precisely what Wynton did last night in the concluding song of the evening with a Louisiana-soulful melody when everyone on stage was singing, clapping and generally enjoying the merriment of music making. At the end of the evening, the sold-out house was on their feet, knowing they had enjoyed an extraordinary concert.
On Sunday, we will have one more performance. Remarkably, this piece has not been performed much since 2003. I am certain that after these rousing performances, a revival of this work will occur. If you do not already have your ticket, you will have to wait for the next performance of this piece, certain to occur.
See attached some photos from the program, rehearsals, and a link to a snippet of the end of one of our rehearsals to get a sense of this great work!
YouTube link to rehearsal: