Westminster Symphonic Choir takes on New York

Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Simon Rattle, at Carnegie Hall in 2012. This year’s choir will be performing at Carnegie Hall March 1, singing Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) with the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Daniele Gatti.
Westminster Symphonic Choir performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Simon Rattle, at Carnegie Hall in 2012. This year’s choir will be performing at Carnegie Hall March 1, singing Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) with the Vienna Philharmonic and conductor Daniele Gatti.

By Alyssa Naimoli

Brahms’ elegy to immortality, written after the deaths of his mother and his friend Robert Schumann, will be brought to life by the Westminster Symphonic Choir in New York.

Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem) will be performed with the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Daniele Gatti, at Carnegie Hall on March 1.

“[This performance] at Carnegie Hall continues Westminster’s long tradition of performing with the world’s leading orchestras and conductors,” said Anne Sears, director of external affairs at Westminster. “This began in 1934 when Leopold Stokowski brought The Philadelphia Orchestra to perform Bach’s Mass in B minor with the Westminster Choir to celebrate the opening of the Westminster Choir College campus in Princeton.”

Since 1934, the Westminster Symphonic Choir has performed with such orchestras and conductors almost annually, sometimes doubling performances per year.

“These performances are very special opportunities for Westminster students, since all of them will perform in many of the Symphonic Choir’s performances when they’re students,” Sears said. “Westminster is the only college that can guarantee its students that they will perform at such a professional level.”

The Westminster Symphonic Choir combines the talents of the juniors, seniors and graduate students on campus with the professional players of the Vienna Philharmonic, one of the premier European orchestras. The conductor helping to prepare them for their New York show is Westminster’s Dr. Joe Miller, the department chair.

The performance promises to be the experience of a lifetime for the choir students of Westminster as they perform the world famous requiem at Carnegie Hall.

Unlike most requiems, which have prescribed liturgical texts that remember and honor the souls of the dead, Ein deutsches Requiem draws its text from biblical passages selected by Brahms. It brings more of a celebratory feeling to the members of the Westminster Symphonic Choir.

“When we think of requiems, we usually think of something that memorializes the dead,” said Vinroy Brown, a senior member of the choir. “This one pays homage to the living. Singing this work is like familiarizing yourself with an old friend.”

The performance offers the audience a variety of instruments and voices as they listen to the beautifully composed German work. The audience can expect a deep and diverse performance because “both parties can be at a chilling hush, but can also roar like a lion when turned loose,” said Brown.

“The audience can expect a well-polished performance that is a result of a lot of preparation time,” Brown said. “Audiences can also expect an emotionally charged performance of this monumental work.”

The German piece will demonstrate the master performing skills that the Symphonic Choir has to share as the audience goes through the emotional movements of the work with the choir. Singers hope the piece will bring a wave of joy over the audience as it echoes through the hall.

“I am absolutely in love with the fourth, fifth and seventh movements of the work,” Brown said. “They each carry traits that Brahms is known for. And it’s just so much fun to sing.”

Though this opportunity is monumental for the Symphonic Choir, it is only the first of many that the choir has to offer.

“This is our busiest year in a while, and it’s so exciting,” Brown said. “This season includes performances with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, three performances with the Philadelphia Orchestra and this performance with the Vienna Philharmonic.”

The performance will be on March 1 at Carnegie Hall at 2 p.m.

Printed in the 2/25/15 edition.

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