Monday, May 25, 2015

Joyous 'Carmina Burana' From SF Symphony Chorus

The Sunday, May 17, evening concert at Davies Hall by the San Francisco Symphony Chorus under the superb direction of conductor Ragnar Bohlin was like a glass both half empty and half full. Let me explain.

Starting with Igor Stravinsky's "Mass", which as performed sounded more like a sketch more than a complete work and didn't impress this listener, the first half of the concert was pleasant enough filler and also included a short choral work by Francis Poulenc. The chorus sounded fine, but in my section of the audience we were anxious to get to the intermission and section half of the evening.

The main attraction was Carl Orff's classic lustful and celebratory "Carmina Burana" and the singers and musicians performed with just the right amount of gusto to excite my ears, from start to finish.

When the drummers banged their instruments, a rich and vibrant sound stirred me. Many sections were sung with so much glee and verve by the symphony's chorus and the Pacific Boychoir, I wanted to join them in the singing and merry-making. Maybe the programmers will consider a sing-along "Carmina Burana" performance in the future. That would surely be a sell-out.

Soloists soprano Joanna Taber, tenor Jonathan Thomas and baritone Michael Taylor stood out with their remarkable vocal talents which blended so well with the hundred-plus choral members' joyous delivery.

Each piece of the work had its moment of glory and all added up to a marvelous performance that raised the roof of the hall. Well-earned rousing applause erupted at the conclusion, with the audience giving a much-deserved standing ovation to the artists on-stage. A joyous concert we will long remember.

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