Not Beethoven, not Schubert, but Hailstork!

"I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes", a three-movement cantata written in 1989 by Adolphus Hailstork (1941- ), was the highlight of Saturday's concert by the University of Maryland 2006 Summer Chorus & Festival Orchestra. Most striking was the performance by tenor Issachah Savage, a giant bear of a man whose voice filled the hall and soared above the hundred-plus members of the chorus, as sweat beaded his brow from his hard work. Savage looked even larger than large when standing next to the conductor, Jason Max Ferdinand, whose long thin limbs made him most resemble a praying mantis in a gray suit. Quite a visual contrast, to accompany the superb music.

And as a bonus, the concert program notes (author unspecified — Ferdinand?) included a fascinating bit of historical trivia re Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, op. 80:

The first performance of the Choral Fatnasy took place Thursday, December 22, 1808, at the Theatre an der Wien in Vienna. Beethoven served as both conductor and pianist. At this performance he wanted to introduce a myriad of his works and as a result preparation time was short, leaving many of the works under rehearsed. The theater was freezing, as monetary constraints did not allow for the heating of the hall, and the program tested the endurance of a public already accustomed to very long concerts. Historical accounts suggest that the program was about four hours in length. Beethoven was forced to restart the Fantasy from the top, as it fell apart midstream (this aspect of performance practice we will try not to emulate) which only served to aggravate the orchestra and the already uncomfortable audience. It is probably no coincidence that Beethoven never appeared again in public as a soloist with orchestra.

And one more literally humorous note: after the intermission on Saturday evening, when the stage crew had brought out the piano for the Beethoven piece and the orchestra was about to tune up, the Concertmaster as usual struck a key. But instead of A above middle C, she accidentally hit G, a full step lower! Everybody in the orchestra started to laugh — including the concertmaster herself — and chuckles spread to the audience when she corrected her mistake and those of us with less sense of pitch belatedly got the joke.

(full disclosure: my daughter was one of the violinists in the orchestra on 22 July 2006; cf. MusicMaster (4 Jun 2001), OnStage (29 Oct 2001), MusicalValues (3 Nov 2001), WebbWiggins (15 Dec 2002), SwayingMusicians (30 Apr 2003), ThePowerOfSmallNumbers (3 May 2004), ...)

TopicArt - TopicPersonalHistory - TopicHumor - TopicEntertainment - 2006-07-25

(correlates: ReallyGreat, NoSweat, EnlivenedSolitude, ...)