Sunday, Aug 18, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 37 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 9, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 49
Good vibrations at St. James Cathedral
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Good vibrations at St. James Cathedral

by Rod Parke - SGN A&E Writer

Early Music Guild: stile antico
December 3
St. James Cathedral


If you've never experienced a musical performance in the acoustic of a cathedral, you won't know what I'm talking about in this review. A young early-music vocal group called 'stile antico' sang music mostly of Thomas Tallis and William Byrd at St. James Cathedral to a sold-out hall Saturday evening, and the effect of the room on their sound was really essential to this music. The group of 12 singers moved around a bit, yet the sound was always perfectly blended and embraced by the stone walls and floor.

The first time my partner Dale and I walked into Salisbury Cathedral, we happened upon a rehearsal by the Bournemouth Symphony of Debussy's 'La Mer.' The sound was so seductively overwhelming that I didn't even see the Cathedral until they stopped playing. It was like swimming in a warm lake of caressing currents - almost dizzying in a drug-like swoon. And yet the details were paradoxically of a clarity I associate with listening via state-of-the-art headphones. The effect at St. James for this concert was nearly as enhanced by its architecture. I give thanks to the cooperation between Seattle's Early Music Guild and St. James Cathedral for the chance to hear this music in its optimum space.

The program consisted of Tallis' incomplete Christmas mass, 'Missa Puer Natus Est,' with contemporary Advent music interspersed between its sections. We began with the men's voices, processing from the east end of the cathedral to the central altar, followed by the women coming from the west. They moved to the familiar plainchant 'Veni Emmanuel.' They sang the rest of the program in an open circle, facing out to the audience, first to the west and then to the other three directions, splitting the numbers into four sections. If I had any complaint, it would be that we (in the north transept) did not see the singers' faces until three-quarters of the program had been sung.

That's a really grouchy complaint, for this music should perhaps ideally be listened to with eyes closed, letting the sound carry one aloft. I overheard an equally inappropriate complaint about not being able to understand the words because of the resonant acoustics. I hardly think clarity of the words is an issue here for many reasons: first that the works were composed specifically for such a resonant acoustic, and second that the Latin texts of the mass were known by heart by nearly every listener of the period. Third, the words are generally repeated many times, yet they will be blurred by the very polyphony of the music.

This polyphonic overlaying of words was especially present in the music of William Byrd, who wrote the vocal line of each part often coming in at subsequent entrances, as in a round or fugue. Thus, the beginning words are piled up on top of other words. This mode of composition is not designed for textual clarity. It would have been folly for the ensemble to exaggerate the words in an effort to overcome this innate characteristic of the music.

In fact, I could not fault the group in any way. When the men sang a line in unison, you could not tell it was seven voices rather than one, so perfect was their blend. The only reason one could hear individual voices in the more complex music was that sometimes the bass line, for instance, was carried by one voice. Thirteen voices in all, working in one accord, with the vocal lines weaving in and around each other with seamless precision. One wonders that these voices can sing almost continuously for two hours without running out of steam. This British group does not, in its biographical info on its webpage, reveal how they got together. There's not a gray hair among them, so let's hope they continue for many seasons and manage to return to Seattle.

Since this review ended up being almost as much about St. James Cathedral as about this program, I should mention that the cathedral maintains a very busy, first-rate music program, which can be viewed at www.stjames-cathedral.org/music. Chances to experience this fabulous venue for music abound!

Reviewer Rod Parke can be reached at rmp62@columbia.edu.

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

Cinderella is pure magic
------------------------------
SGN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Tori Amos speaks passionately on Gay fans, bullying, and politics
------------------------------
PNB's Nutcracker charms in traditional performance
------------------------------
New Seattle Leather Daddy and Daddy's boy named
------------------------------
Jackie Beat is Christmas in The Nutcracker
------------------------------
Enter to win free tickets for The Descendants from the SGN!
------------------------------
Pale and Lovely Place an unpredictable mix
------------------------------
Every Christmas Story offers every Christmas gag you can think of
------------------------------

------------------------------
Hillary Clinton's most impressive speech on human/lgbt rights in Geneva ...most incredible


------------------------------
The Kooks play dynamite show to big crowd
------------------------------
Scorsese's Hugo pure cinematic magic
------------------------------
Muppets still make a rainbow connection
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Q-Scopes by Jack Fertig
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Northwest News
------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------
Mark Morris Dance Group: The new old and the old new
------------------------------
A Dyke About Town: Chick Corea Trio amazing
------------------------------
Good vibrations at St. James Cathedral
------------------------------
Young the Giant interview for 'Best of Music 2011'
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1605 12 Ave., Ste. 31
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2011

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News