Judeo-Christian holidays reflected in music
Phyllis A.S. Boros | CT Post

The breadth of human emotion — from utter despair to sublime joy — will be offered in a program of two concerts that unites the talents of the Fairfield County Chorale and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

Reflecting Judeo-Christian aspects of the season (Passover is April 3-11, Good Friday is April 3 and Easter will be celebrated April 5), the program will open with Arnold Schönberg‘s “A Survivor from Warsaw,” a work from 1947 that “describes the suffering of prisoners (found in the Warsaw sewers) who began singing the `Schema Jisroel,’ a traditional Jewish prayer, as they were being led away to the death camp,” said John Parkinson, executive director of the Fairfield-based organization.

Following “Survivor,” Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, considered among the most celebratory pieces of music ever written, will lift “all spirits as it reaches its glorious finale with orchestra, chorus and soloists performing `Ode to Joy.’ “

Known as the “Choral Symphony,” Beethoven’s orchestral work in four movements was “remarkable in its day, not only for its grandness of scale, but especially for its final movement, which includes a full chorus and vocal soloists who sing a setting of Friedrich Schiller‘s poem `An die Freude’ (Ode to Joy).”

Parkinson noted that “Ode to Joy” is the anthem of the European Union and the sound of new year celebrations around the world. (On Christmas Day 1989, soon after the demolition of the Berlin Wall, Leonard Bernstein conducted the 9th with musicians from both the eastern and western sides of Berlin.)

David Rosenmeyer, FCC’s artistic director, who was raised in Argentina and spends much of his time in Israel, will conduct the concert in Norwalk. The New Haven concert will be conducted by NHSO Director William Boughton, who is from Great Britain.

“Different conductors will have slightly different interpretations of the same piece. It’s a wonderful opportunity for our singers to be able to work with two different conductors from two different traditions: European and South American,” Parkinson said.

Pooling resources is another reason artistic organizations join forces, he said, allowing both to mount large productions without astronomic costs — and both are guaranteed exposure to new audiences.

Guest soloists are Amanda Pabyan, soprano; Leah Hawkins, mezzo-soprano; Halim Shon, tenor; and Keith Harris, baritone.

Saturday, March 28, 7:30 p.m. at the Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Ave. $35; $5 at the door for students. www.artful.ly/fairfield-county-chorale/store/events/4089.

Thursday, April 2, 7:30 p.m., Woolsey Hall, corner of College and Grove streets on the campus of Yale University, New Haven. $74-$15; student tickets are $10, free for children 7-17 with the purchase of an adult ticket. Free for active military personnel and their immediate families. 203-865-0831, ext. 20; www.NewHavenSymphony.org.


Twitter: @Phyllis A.S. Boros