Sunday, October 17, 2010

de Angelis Season Opener Highlights Minimalist Compositions

Arvo Part, John Tavener and Henryk Gorecki works were among the dozen short choral pieces sung by the intrepid de Angelis Vocal Ensemble at the Mission Basilica in San Juan Capistrano at their season opening concert Saturdyay. Artistic Director Matthew Gray has not shied away from the unusual works that unnecessarily frighten some concertgoers, demonstrating that in the realm of vocal music, at least, these contemporary compositions hold their own quite well. To his credit, he has attracted an audience of well over 100 to soak up the atmospheric music in the atmospheric surroundings of the Basilica's blindingly gold retablo and live acoustics. His introductions to each piece gently ease the audience into what might, for many, be unfamiliar territory; their response, however, validates his success. Not every upcoming concert will push the envelope quite so far, with holiday music and tin pan alley scheduled later in the season, but this was certainly an auspicious debut and validates Gray's penchant for exploring new work. More power to him!
Coincidentally, this morning's New York Times Magazine included a feature on Arvo Part, whose work has gained favor by many mainstream orchestras and ensembles.

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