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Transient Glory Choral and Chamber Music at New York University

- Classical and Cultural Connections: Arts and Education

Transient Glory Choral Symposium
And Chamber Music Festival

The Young People’s Chorus of NYC

Francisco Nuñez, Artistic Director and Founder
Presented by
The Young People’s Chorus of NYC and Department of Music
And Performing Arts Professions
The Steinhardt School, New York University
Frederick Loewe Theatre
New York University

August 10 – August 13, 2005

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 12, 2005

August 12, 2005 Program:

Jon Holden Piano
Composers: Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum, Benjamin Lees, Nils Vigeland, Michael Nyman, Bright Sheng

Transient Glory Conductors: Dr. Janet Galvan (Guest Conductor) and Dominick DiOrio

Instrumentalists: Perspectives Ensemble, with Deborah Buck Violin, Sharon Roffman, Violin, Kathryn Lockwood, Viola, Wendy Sutter, Cello, Jacqueline Kerrod, Harp, Alan R. Kay, Clarinet, Cynde Iverson, Bassoon, Paul Harris, Bass.


Two Songs from e.e. cummings, Choral Work, Clarinet

Odyssey #2, Solo piano
Night Spectres, Solo cello
The Nervous Family, Choral Work
Vocalise, Choral Work

Five Nocturnes, Piano, Clarinet, Violin
Miracles, Choral Work
Invocation, Choral Work

A Child’s View of Colour, Choral Work, String Quartet

String Quartet No. 3
The Boatmen’s Song, Choral Work

I was drawn to this particular event, because of a very positive memory of Bright Sheng, composer, who was involved with San Francisco Ballet a couple of years ago in a splendid rendition of a unique score. The Steinhardt School of New York University tonight, in collaboration with the Young People’s Chorus of New York City, presented new choral and instrumental works by a few composers in residence (In fact, this event ran for three nights), and tonight was the scheduled appearance by Bright Sheng. In preparation for this event, I was awarded a phone interview with Dr. Sheng, a couple of hours prior to this almost three-hour, intermission-less series of musical and choral performances, including onstage/offstage composer comments.

Dr. Sheng first spoke of The Boatmen’s Song , written in 2004, which includes hand-clapping as enhanced percussion and which requires high voices to capture the essence of the folk song, written with transliteration for dialect, native to a specific Midwest region of China. The String Quartet No. 3, although written in 1993, seemed perfect for this event and features a theme that’s an homage to the renowned Béla Bartók. He was unable to present his String Quartet No. 4, a more recent composition, due to the inaccessibility of all the musicians for its presentation. Dr. Sheng, on the faculty of the University of Michigan, mentioned an upcoming piece, which will be performed in Philadelphia and Carnegie Hall.

The Boatmen’s Song, commissioned by the chorus, the first of two final works presented tonight, was fascinating, with actual hand-clapping, sticks, and shaker, in choral collaborative gestures and very effectively directed. The harp provided not only solo instrumental accompaniment, but also percussive sound, with sensual, strong chords. Sheng spoke about this piece onstage and mentioned merging dance rhythms at the beginning and the funereal references at the end. Sheng’s String Quartet No. 3 was introspective with an Eastern musical influence. Dissonant violin passages, followed by an energetic, and later elongated, cello, added professional presence to this eclectic event. The highly sophisticated and stylized themes created numerous contrasts of whispering violin and the richly resonant quartet, with the cello droning and disappearing in the final notes.

The Kroll-Rosenbaum work, two e.e. cummings songs, with piano and clarinet accompaniment, was a Young People’s Chorus commission. Lees’ four works were quite dynamic, and it should be mentioned prominently that the Young People’s Chorus was composed of some of the most eager and enthusiastic young singers I’ve ever heard, all focused on the conductors, all singing with exceptional poise and presence. Odyssey #2 for solo piano was brief, staccato, and driven with contrasting moods. Night Spectres for solo cello had eery, mellow, and, once again, shifts in tone and volume. Long whispering tones brought out the most from this interesting work.

The Nervous Family, commissioned by Young People’s Chorus, introduced the young chorus to the stage, and a double bassoon accompaniment added to the mix. The students, in yellow, red, and lavender, with young ladies in scarves and young men in jackets, were theatrically ready, as they kept repeating the word “nervous” in a humorous and surreal fashion. Lees’ Vocalise, a world premiere, inspired by Edward Lear limericks, reconfigured the chorus, as they sang only a one syllable short-A vowel, over and over, in melancholy, but melodic tones.

Vigeland’s Five Nocturnes for Piano, Clarinet, and Violin had mesmerizing qualities, with the third showcasing an atonal prepared piano. Each Nocturne was unique with its own developed musical element. In the fourth Nocturne, with a very American sounding motif, the clarinet took one soft note against a languorous violin and rippling piano. The fifth was quite brief, but persuasive. Vigeland’s Miracles, commissioned by the chorus, had an effervescent quality, with the final word, “miracles”, repeating in a one-tone, full volume, again and again. Invocation (world premiere) for chorus was brief and soulful.

Nyman’s A Child’s View of Colour for chorus and string quartet, commissioned by the chorus, had a nicely textured melody. The combination of chorus and quartet (bass, cello, violin, and viola) was a well-conceived composition. The Young People’s Chorus of New York City, under Francisco J. Nuñez, and all the Symposium composers are to be congratulated for an excellent series of new, vital instrumental and choral works. The instrumentalists were equally talented.

Transient Glory Composers and Conductors
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Jacqueline Kerrod, Harpist, and Chorus
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Francisco Nunez, Dominick DiOrio, Bright Sheng
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

Bright Sheng, Dominick DiOrio, Janet Galvan
Photo courtesy of Roberta Zlokower

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at