Various beautiful voices, still one community
A celebration of the diversity around us
Hildegard von Bingen’s “O Virtus Sapientae”, George Frideric Handel’s “In quel bosco” & “Camminando lei pian piano” from Vendendo amor, Esteban Salas’s “Salve Regina”, Thomas Selle’s “Kyrie” from Sey mir gnädig, and more
The Handel and Haydn Society
Directed by Reginald L. Mobley and assisted by conductor Dr. Jennifer Kane
First Church in Roxbury & Union United Methodist Church
Pacing into the First Church in Roxbury, I immediately sensed the ambiance of the room; the church setting was quaint and filled with baroque touches.
As noted by Director Mobley, the purpose of the Every Voice series is to recognize and shed positive light on the diversity within the community. This year, the focus is on the LGBTQIA+ community, the Latinx community, as well as veterans and victims of wars. The music for every community presents a kaleidoscope of styles that highlights the past and the present of each group.
Going into the actual performance itself, the program was both broad and impressive in the number and the range of musical periods it showcased. Each piece had its own merits, but I will feature the ones that I personally found most notable and interesting.
In the LGBTQIA+ community’s cantata, the “No, di voi non vo’ fidarmi” duet made a truly lasting impression on me. The two women who performed this piece were both sopranos and they executed such contrasting control, legato, and dynamics in their voices that it was brought to life immediately. The harmony between them was very much in sync; it was obvious that they were singing to match the musical emotions of each other rather than just singing off the score. Additionally, the “Tu dulcis, o bone Jesu” piece was one that I found very gratifying in terms of musical technique. In the chorus, the male bass voices formed a powerful and stable foundation, particularly in the up and down passages, while the female voices were very much contained. Overall, I enjoyed the mirroring pattern of overlapping voices.
Transitioning into the Latinx community’s vignette, in the “Salve Regina” chorus, it was captivating to hear how the soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices all replied to one another. The female voices were emphasized here, though the melody was distinct and definitely not traditionally classical. The “Lamentos do Morro” guitar solo provided much entertainment value for me; I really admired that the instrumental voice was also celebrated as part of the community. This piece had several tricky finger techniques, yet Jonas Kublickas did very well in communicating them to the audience through his crisp sound. He also implemented a slightly jazzy feeling that at times reminded me of the atmosphere at a European coffee shop on a Sunday afternoon.
Finally, the Anniversary of War portion of the program provided a nice finish to the concert. I particularly cherished Doug Dodson’s “Song of Songs” solo. Not only was his vocal range beyond impressive, his tone was smooth and powerful, with emotion spewing in its rawest form. For “Sleep, Poor Youth”, I found that Bradford Gleim had a rich voice while Jessica Cooper had impressive trills; however, their voices didn’t quite meld together. Also, I must applaud the children’s choir in their performances. The musical technique they demonstrated was exceptional considering how complicated their parts seemed to be. They also did a great job harmonizing with the adult singers. The director had the audience join in which provided a neat, unifying theme to close out the concert.
Besides providing entertainment value and satisfaction, this concert did much more. Traditional classical music used to be dominated by white-dominated culture, yet through performances like these, the Handel and Haydn Society fortifies the idea of strength in diversity, inspiring the reflection of the gentrified musical past as well as the embrace of each and every individual voice of our unified modern community.