Sunday, May 11, 2014

New York Classical Review on R. Nathaniel Dett's 'The Ordering of Moses': 'The Cincinnati Symphony and soloists gave a fine account of this work.'

features a comprehensive Works List and a Bibliography by Dr. Dominique-René de Lerma, (Photo: Library of Congress)]

by Amanda Angel

May 10, 2014

Heavy-handed presentation undermines Cincinnati Symphony revival of Dett's "Moses"

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William, I  also considered that it was totally unnecessary for Conlon to have resorted to the ‘cheap’ sensationalism by reviving memories of ‘old issues’ and interrupting his performance at that point. Unfortunately, I was not able to hear it at all on line due to what seemed to be some sort of glitch on the internet. I will be looking out npr putting this event under archives on their website.  Best wishes, Mike [Michael S. Wright]                                                                                                      
James Conlon led the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, May Festival Chorus, and an appreciative audience in a rousing encore of Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus from The Messiah to close its “Spring for Music” performance Friday night at Carnegie Hall. Yet it was another refrain of “Hallelujah” that loomed larger over the evening.
In 1937 the Cincinnati Symphony premiered R. Nathaniel Dett’s oratorio, The Ordering of Moses at a May Festival concert, which was broadcast live on NBC radio. About 45 minutes into the African-American composer’s hour-long work, the choristers intone “Hallelujah” in response to the drowning of the Pharaoh’s armies. Then NBC cut the broadcast for reasons that remain unknown today.
The Ordering of Moses, a landmark work by an African-American composer, was on the program again Friday night, and the performance played out much as it had on the airwaves decades ago. Conlon stopped the orchestra at the very point when the broadcast ended, and the actual taped interruption from 1937 played over the house speakers: “We are sorry indeed, ladies and gentleman, but due to previous commitments, we are unable to remain for the closing moments of this excellent performance.”
Unlike 74 years earlier, Friday’s listeners, both in the house and those tuning in on WQXR, heard the oratorio through to its exultant finish. However, it’s curious that in Conlon’s attempt to remedy an injustice—the program notes maintain that the broadcast was halted due to complaints regarding the composer’s race rather than a scheduling snafu—the conductor engaged in such a jarring and gimmicky interruption himself.
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Heavy-handed presentation undermines Cincinnati Symphony revival of Dett’s “Moses”

May 10, 2014
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