Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Longfellow Chorus: 'First Theater Audience Gives Two Thumbs Up to Coleridge-Taylor in America.'

Above: The Longfellow Chorus, Orchestra and Ballet Ensemble, with Angela Brown, soprano, Rodrick Dixon, tenor, and Robert Honeysucker, baritone, acknowledge a standing ovation in Merrill Auditorium, Portland, Maine, at last weekend's historic performance of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's complete "Scenes from The Song of Hiawatha." Photo by Pete Nenortas]

Newsletter Link:

For the record, this revised newsletter contains corrections and additional information about Coleridge-Taylor's Overture to Hiawatha, how Shostakovich might be called the "Russian Coleridge-Taylor," and how young Longfellow's first activity as a Native American advocate in 1823 eventually led to the composition of his epic poem Hiawatha in 1854.

If it were possible for 49 singers, 42 orchestral musicians, 3 opera soloists, 5 dancers, 5 solo violinists (2 of them thirteen years old) and 1 solo cellist to move a mountain, they succeeded last weekend in Merrill Auditorium, here, in Portland, Maine. It may have been an invisible mountain — considering the scope of the festival, an invisible range of mountains — but that mountain, or range, was as grand and as glorious as anything you will find in the Himalayas. View a pdf file of the complete program here (23.7 MB).

You knew it was invisible when you looked out onto an audience not quite numbering 100 people in an auditorium seating 1900 people, which could have and should have been filled. And all of those people in a filled Merrill would have been blown away by the quality of the performances.

That invisible mountain range I'm talking about is Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and numerous examples of his music, most notably, his profoundly effective operatic setting of Longfellow's "Song of Hiawatha," performed with musical and emotional depth this past weekend within blocks of the childhood home of the poet.

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