Baroque and Beyond?

Beyond Baroque”
Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra and Oak Ridge Chorus
Saturday, November 6, 8 p.m.
First United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge (map)

From the joyous and euphoria-inducing octave leaps of its opening “Gloria in excelsis Deo” to the comfortable and placid aria “Domine Deus” with its gorgeous oboe obbligato, Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, R. 589, is one of the most grand, yet accessible, works for chorus and orchestra ever written. By programming the work on Beyond Baroque,” the second concert of his tenure, the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Dan Allcott is throwing caution to the wind and banking on his belief, in his own words, “in the importance of choruses, choirs and choral music to the community and the singers themselves.” Joining Allcott, the orchestra, and the Oak Ridge Chorus in the Vivaldi will be guest soprano Melisa Barrick.

I should mention that I have weighed in on the issue of the size of Baroque choral forces previously with some vehemence. (“Confessions of a Bachophile, Chapter 3”). In short, large choruses for Baroque works are generally not only historically inaccurate, but also rather lacking in vocal nimbleness. It is one thing to provide an outlet for the choral aspirations of community singers; it is quite another matter to maintain choral quality and musical intent while doing so.

Along with Vivaldi on the Baroque side of the concert is the “Sinfonia” from Heinrich Biber’s Battalia. For the second half of the evening, Allcott moves “Beyond Baroque” into the 20th Century with two intriguing works that have firm ties to the past: Fratres by the contemporary Estonian composer, Arvo Pärt; and Ancient Airs and Dances: Suite No. 3 by Ottorino Resphigi.

While the Gloria is widely loved and regularly performed, hither and yon, Allcott’s concert overall represents a bit of bold, imaginative programming that deserves a recommendation. If you live in Oak Ridge, you really have no excuse not to try it out. If you live in Knoxville, or elsewhere, and love Baroque music, you may be kicking yourself if you miss the opportunity.

 

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