Diverse traditions of sacred joy
Passion Week is here, and in a marked departure from the usual Easter fare, the Metropolitan Master Chorale has prepared a concert matching traditional and new music, expanding boundaries for their audience as well as their members. The group is an impressive example of the vast diversity of LA’s singer community, and boasts some heavy hitters from the local scene, including such Listers as Gerald White and Alison Lewis (who solos on a compelling jazz work on this concert — see below). This particular event gives the group a healthy, exhilarating stretch, too: “it really demonstrates the range of what the chorale can do,” beams board president Catherine Schuster.Led by guest conductor Michael Arshagouni, the program starts with Mozart‘s legendary Requiem, but the concert’s centerpiece is actually the world premiere of Asking for Kaddish from LA composer, bassist, teacher and performer Ross Wright. Wright is known for his penchant for genre mashups and compositional fearlessness, and especially for his alter ego, Elvis Schoenberg, leader of the Orchestre Surreal. The Kaddish is one of the most important and profound prayers in Judaism, and takes several forms. This work puts Wright’s complex harmonies and eclectic style to work to express “love, memory, and compassion in the face of loss”, an apt message for a week when multiple faith traditions celebrate sacrifice, resurrection and salvation in various forms.
Next is Shelly Berg‘s very exciting Convergence, a jazz vespers that merges elements of Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Judaism. Its performance features Alison Lewis and some of LA’s finest jazz musicos, including pianist Dave Tull and drummer Dave Arnay. The program wraps up nicely with the reprise of a piece by Glenn Carlos, who is also the group’s artistic director: ‘Sometimes I Cry‘ is a choral setting of a poem by Rhea Rackley, a beautiful and highly visual celebration of not only life, but of the whole life cycle, including death. There is no better realization of the tumultuous yet joyful energy of the season.
Metropolitan Master Chorale
Sunday, April 1, 5pm
Los Angeles Theatre Center (LATC)
514 S. Spring Street (between 5th & 6th)
Los Angeles, CA 90013
|Originally published 3/30/12 in Next 7 — Vocal events through 4/5|