Bernstein, Orff, Arbeau, Susato

Last week, two professors in my department were giving away their tickets to the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s Sunday concert at Disney Hall, and after wavering for an afternoon, I snagged them and invited my friend Dustin to the concert. I had been to Disney Hall in downtown LA before but had yet to hear a performance there (I’m starting my fifth year of grad school and still haven’t seen the LA Phil!). Plus the program was Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and I liked the parts of each that I was familiar with.

Before the concert, we had ramen at Daikokuya in Little Tokyo and then went to the mochi ice cream place, where I got a scoop of red bean ice cream. Then we walked to Disney Hall. I’d never seen the inside of the concert hall, and I thought it was pretty! Mostly for the majestic pipe organ, with its pipes flaring and jutting out at many angles, all dappled in the blue and gold lighting.

Disney Hall 2

I knew the second movement of the Chichester Psalms because a countertenor at my high school sang it. Here, the soloist was a thirteen-year-old boy soprano. It was great to hear a live performance of that, and I also liked the other two movements. There was an extended cello solo (or perhaps cello ensemble?) in the third movement.

For Carmina Burana, the LA Children’s Chorus (in red vests) joined the Master Chorale, and the orchestra got bigger. Dustin and I knew the somewhat ubiquitous “O Fortuna,” but not the rest, and again, I liked all of it! Carmina Burana (maybe just “O Fortuna”?) was one of the pieces I studied in music listening, and I remembered the texts were written by medieval German monks, but I didn’t realize the themes were basically drinking and love. There were surtitles in English, and some of the translations were quite comical. There was also this tenor solo for which the text was the lament of a swan who’s been cooked and is being served up and sees the diners’ teeth approaching. The tenor really hammed it up. Also, the soprano soloist turned out to be the singer who played Daiyu in the world premiere of the opera Dream of the Red Chamber, which I saw in San Francisco just over a year ago!

It was a splendid concert, and I’m glad I’ve finally heard a performance at Disney Hall.

And since this is a music post, I’m going to squeeze in another musical connection discovery: I’ve talked about Arbeau’s pavane “Belle, qui tiens ma vie” before, and how it appears in Peter Warlock’s “Capriol Suite.” Well, the other day I was listening to a recording of Tylman Susato’s Danserye and heard something familiar in an allemande… It’s the first piece in this recording, and if you’ve listened to “Belle, qui tiens ma vie” enough you’ll recognize the first two lines. After that it’s different.

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