The second half of June saw the end of many things. For example, the last lecture in the Bible course I am taking, which involves reading one chapter of the Hebrew Bible every weekday. The final lecture in the course took place last week, although we shall not reach the 929th (and final) chapter till the middle of next week. Then, we shall start all over again.
I have already registered for next year’s course, which will focus (as its name suggests) on prophets and kings (or prophets versus kings, as they so often were) – as well as for two courses on music, including an in-depth study of all nine of Beethoven’s symphonies. More about that, however, in future posts.
The week before last saw the final concert of the season for my choir, the Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir. This was particularly poignant, marking, as it did, our farewell from Kate Belshé who has been our conductor and musical director for the past four years. She will be sorely missed.
During her “term of office”, Kate brought us a great deal of music from composers with whose work we were not familiar, as well as lot more contemporary music than we had previously been used to – but also more traditional styles. This last concert was no exception, featuring, as it did, music ranging from the 14th century Llibre Vermell de Montserrat, a motet by the Renaissance composer Tomas Luis de Victoria, through the Romantic Era, with Bruckner and Stanford, right up to the 20th century (Poulenc, Durufle, Frank Martin) and beyond, with contemporary composers such as the Hungarians, Miklos Kocsar and Laszlo Halmos, the Spaniard, Javier Busto, the American Morten Lauridsen and the Portuguese composer Alfredo Teixeira.
The music performed ranged from relatively simple dance tunes composed in the late Middle Ages to help pilgrims to the great Monastery of Montserrat stay awake during their nocturnal vigils, to the terrifyingly difficult Mass for Double Choir by Frank Martin.
All this took place under the title Stile Antico – Stile Moderno: Settings of Latin Prayers Through the Ages, in the splendidly evocative location of the Ratisbonne Monastery, Jerusalem. This is a very beautiful Roman Catholic church dating from the 19th century, in the heart of the capital of the Jewish state, with exactly the kind of acoustics one wants for the kind of music we were performing.
You can see the whole concert (which was streamed live, via mobile phone, on Facebook) here, minus the first two pieces.
Two days later, it was the turn of the “mother choir”, the Jerusalem Oratorio Choir of which the Chamber Choir is a leading component, to celebrate the end of the musical season with a party, in which each of the five member choirs performed pieces from the season’s repertoire. In addition, individual choir members contributed solo or small group performances.
Yours Truly performed the duet La ci darem la mano, from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, together with David Kovensky, who sings bass-baritone with our Chamber Choir.
June was supposed to end with a belated cast party for the participants of the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Patience”, which I mentioned in a previous post, but never got around to writing about. Alas, the day before the party was due to take place, we were stunned to hear about the untimely death of one of the principal singers – apparently by his own hand. I am told he had been suffering from clinical depression for years. I did not know him all that well, so I cannot blame myself for having somehow “missed the signs”, but from posts that his close friends wrote on Facebook, it seems that the signs were there, and many people missed them and blamed themselves for not having extended a hand to help him. Now I cannot help asking myself – are there people round about me who are in trouble, who are struggling, without me seeing the signs, even though we are close? How many of us really see when our friends are in distress, in need of a shoulder to lean on, or of a helping hand.
Food for thought.