Dear Singers: Our season has ended with today's FHS performance of the two requiems. A picture (or visual image) is worth a thousand words. At intermission you saw how moved I was by the Durufle performance this afternoon. It also swept the audience away. It was everything John and I had hoped for. The entire Chorale deserves much credit for such a thorough preparation of two large works. Because of rehearsal time constraints, I had to trust you to do your homework. You did. It's sad you couldn't hear it for yourselves, but I'll try to describe a few of the highlights.
The Introit began with those simple chants that soothed the listeners almost into a meditative trance. Then came the Kyrie as the basses entered with a richness, followed by the other voices. The phrases began to soar. Simply put, the singing was gorgeous. Every section had a rich, free, beautiful quality. It made me tear up and get an emotional lump in my chest (that's the only way I can explain that feeling). From those beautiful pianissimos that start the Introit to the melodic climax in the Kyrie, there was a great crescendo as voices soared over each other. The power you displayed was thrilling, especially because it came out of almost nothing.
As an aside, once again I got to bask in compliments that YOU should hear. Many orchestra players sought me out and made very sincere and highly complimentary comments about how beautiful your singing has been. Usually just a couple instrumentalists talk to me after a concert, but this time it was more than a dozen. All four soloists were also highly complimentary about your performance.
Back to the Durufle performance--the pianissimos were so effective. ALL of your voices carried to the back of the auditorium where I was sitting even when it was only a shimmering silver thread of sound. I've never heard the Chorale sing with such a wide and varied dynamic palette. John also deserves much credit for that. He molded the music beautifully. The ending of the Durufle was all that you, John, and I had hoped for. Exquisite and breathtaking. It was another tear-up moment with emotional chest lumps...a true "Gettysburg speech ending" moment. Lincoln thought he had failed to reach his audience because no one applauded at the conclusion of his speech. But on that day, those people sat in quiet awe and reverence. So did the audience today. It was very special--in a way, it was more powerful to me than a standing ovation.
SOPRANOS! You had such a lovely, ethereal quality in those soft sections, and the pitch was excellent! After one of those intimate phrases, the music gradually crescendoed to a FF, and you displayed the power that you also possess. It was impressive.
Yes, I know you want me to mention that moment when no one entered on that "Quando coeli movendi sunt et terra" phrase; don't worry, you covered it beautifully. No one looked embarrassed, surprised, or troubled. I had to ask myself if you had actually missed something. Forget it--it's a small blurp that no one noticed. What they did notice was your absolutely stunning performance.
The Mozart went equally well. The dynamic contrasts were vivid and effective. The contrast of the lyrical women's voices against the dramatic sound of the men came off very well. There was also an excellent balance between the sections. ALTOS--you projected very well in both requiems. You were true and trained mezzo sopranos, not Ethel Mermans. Your tone quality has improved so much this year--pat yourselves on the backs. BASSES have also developed a richer, more bassy quality. You've worked very hard to master the Durufle, and you succeeded. TENORS--you soared again! Your voices sounded very fresh and vibrant. Many choir directors would sell their pet llama to have a tenor section like yours. You may notice I don't have my pet llama anymore.
I look back on the year to our choral concerts in November that were so well-attended. That was an excellent program, as evidenced by the fine DVD that came out of it. Messiah went extremely well this year. And now we end with a final performance today that in my grading book was an "A." Please accept my sincere thanks for all your hard work and my congratulations for a great year with its three wonderful concert weekends. --Jim