The Colburn Community Chorale was impressive last night—powerful when the music called for dramatic power (Mendelssohn), and lucid when it called for lyricism (Brahms). Accompanied by an orchestra of Colburn students, the performance was a lesson in subtly contrasting moods and modes of high German classical romanticism.
Sarah Reynolds sang the solo part of the Alto Rhapsody of Brahms with electrifying intensity. It was the only piece on the program that I knew. It’s an extraordinarily moving experience, even for Brahms, who was a specialist in the gently, quietly overwhelming. I thought of William Stryon’s memoir, where he’s jolted out of a suicidal depression by hearing it.
Their performance of the Brahms Nänie was probably my favorite because the sound was so lush and beautiful. But I appreciated the smart programming decision to end the concert with “When Israel out of Egypt came,” so that the Chorale could shout and storm Mendelssohn’s flashy, extroverted showpiece.
Besides their musical accomplishments, their Chorale is also a heartening political and social accomplishment. Performers representing the range of L.A. diversity, volunteering their time to master demandingly intricate music. It’s a little realization of utopian dream of music being part of everybody's lives.
[Image: Monet, 1872, Argenteuil basin]