I don’t have the audience statistics yet, but I think it’s safe to say that the 2013 Family Concert was a grand success, on every level! These concerts often come together in rehearsal on the day of , and that often prevents participants from having a holistic view of the festivities until they unfold. Often many groups are working separately (as in the case of last year’s dance-themed celebration), and the thread holding it all together during the gestational phase is the vision of our conductor, Greg Funfgeld. I wasn’t entirely sure what everything would look like on Sunday afternoon, until Sunday afternoon, and what an absolute delight the concert was!
Kudos to our young composers: the two Mikes and Christopher. They bravely submitted their pieces to our competition, and had the thill of hearing them brought to life yesterday afternoon. The Choir worked very hard on their pieces, and I was very proud of the results. I tried to imagine writing a choral/orchestral piece as a high schooler (my compositional CV at that point only included a marching band show based on a mash-up of Copeland, Bernstein, Willie Nelson, and the Dukes of Hazzard, alas), and was so delighted to encounter Christopher Ostertag’s “The Light of Zion.” His piece was an exuberant end to a program of much musical and intellectual richness. Likewise, Michael McAdrews’ beautifully evocative “Midnight,” was quite a challenge to learn, but sounded very beautiful on Sunday, and Michael Battipaglia’s “Prayer” was a beautiful and eloquent plea for unity. The three winners’ pieces sounded wonderful in the context of the music of young Bach and younger Britten. It was all very inspiring.
Also inspiring was the work of Larry Lipkis’ “Chaconne Project.” The instrumentalists’ melodies, over the chord progression of Bach’s Chaconne from the D-Minor Violin Partita. Improvisation over a ground bass may sound like a heady subject for our youngest listeners, but the concepts were introduced to them with both great humor (yesterday’s concert was probably the only performance by the Bach Choir of Bethlehem and Bach Festival Orchestra of “Hit the Road Jack” ever offered – shame on you if you missed it!) and great care. From my perch in The Choir, it seemed that the audience was quite taken with the Chaconne Project. In fact, though slightly smaller in number than last year’s sellout, this was an extremely receptive and thoughtful audience. What a splendid afternoon, and a most worthy addition to our award-winning and internationally-recognized legacy of educational outreach!