Grieg Peer Gynt & Dvorak Stabat Mater - The consensus: Our best concert yet!
Edvard Grieg's brilliant Peer Gynt Suites are known to virtually everyone, but many do not know that they
are taken from the seldom performed Incidental Music to Henrik Ibsen's dramatic poem Peer Gynt. Our unique adaptation
of this musical fantasy had it all: predation, betrayal, sex, humor, chicanery, love, redemption, and the warm glow
of a sappy ending. Also on the program was Antonin Dvorak's stunning setting of Stabat Mater, a mighty work with
the power to transport the listener to the Gates of Paradise.
– The Berlioz Requiem Revisited, this time in San Francisco: In a unique
partnership of of over 300 singers and musicians from New York and San Francisco, the combined Finger Lakes Choral Festival,
Redwood Symphony and augmented San Francisco Lyric Chorus presented a spectacular program, featuring the Berlioz Requiem,
on August 5, at Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall, the home of the San Francisco Symphony. The concert was hailed by San
Francisco Classical Voice as the "Mega-Concert of the Year. Or Years!" And further added that the program
"Exceeded all expectations." Many singers and musicians reported that this performance was the musical highlight
of their lives, and even more are clamoring for another road trip again, possibly next time at an even more exciting location.
2011 – St. Matthew Passion
Continuing on a quest to perform the world's greatest choral works, one by one, we went to the heart of superlative
music this summer to perform Bach's towering St. Matthew Passion - - only this time in a ground-breaking new version tailored
to replicate the experience of Bach's original audience. The performance was in English, with most of the recitatives
converted into spoken narratives. This gave clarity to the story line and focused attention on the arias and choruses
that make the Passion one the most profound musical works ever written. And the program again was offered with no admission
charge as our musical gift to the community.
2010 – The Berlioz Requiem
Searching for the right words to describe our two
performances of the Grande Messe des Morts, "WOW!" seemed the most appropriate. Judging from the responses of the near-capacity audiences at Hochstein
Performance Hall, it was an emotional tour de force, with reactions ranging from awe at the sheer power of this magnificent
work, to tears from the stunning beauty of its quieter moments. And the ending - - WHAT an ending! A haunting, ethereal wisp
of sound that floated weightlessly into eternity.
2009 – Beethoven Missa Solemnis
great choral works - so little time! With this in mind, we went right to the top of the short list to take on the challenge
of performing possibly the greatest choral work of all, Beethoven's Missa Solemnis - - a towering masterpiece that bursts
at the seams with unforgettable power, pathos and soul-searing beauty. Performances took place on Saturday, July 25 at
8 PM and Sunday, July 26 at 4 PM, at Hochstein Performance Hall in Rochester. We hope you were able to hear this seldom performed
majestic work. Beethoven himself thought it to be his finest effort and inscribed on the title page, "From the heart,
may it in turn return to the heart."
2008 – Beethoven Rocks!
This was a powerful All-Beethoven program,
featuring seldom performed works from the Ruins of Athens, King Stephan and more, plus the Choral Fantasy and Ode to Joy movement
of the Ninth Symphony. Performances were held at Hochstein Performance Hall on June 29, and at Chautauqua Institution on July
26, our fifth year in a row to be invited to sing at this world-class venue before another audience of 5000. An excerpt of
a review of the concert from the Daily Chautauquan follows:
"The all-Beethoven program presented
by the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra Saturday night at the Amphitheater was anything but routine. In fact, for a concert devoted
to arguably the biggest of the so-called three B’s, this one was practically wild. Not that the performances were out
of control. On the contrary, the CSO, music director Stefan Sanderling, the Finger Lakes Choral Festival and the many guest
artists who joined them were, for the most part, paragons of musical virtue."
2007 – OUR DEVILISHLY EXCITING PROGRAM - FAUST, CARMINA & THE NINTH
We raised the roof at Hochstein Performance Hall on Saturday, July
28, and Sunday, July 29, with a rollicking celebration of earthly pleasures and capricious fate, and blew the audience away
with the devilishly exciting final scenes from the Faustian operas of Berlioz and Boito. As advertised, our massive chorus
took that pulse-pounding ride through Pandemonium and emerged triumphant over the forces of evil in the breathtaking, jaw-dropping
finale. Comments like: the best, the most exciting, amazing, exhilarating concert they ever heard. One woman in the audience
said that it was even better than chocolate!
On August 18, as an encore to our 2007 season, the Choral Festival
once again visited Chautauqua Institution, this time to sing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Uri Segal's farewell performance
as regular conductor of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra. The historic amphitheater, pictured above, was packed to the gills
with over 6,000 enthralled spectators, and when the music stopped, there was an explosion of cheers that rocked the gentility
of this peaceful oasis of art and culture. It was electric!
2006 – Beethoven and Mozart
Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Saturday, July 8, with
the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, to celebrate the opening of the new state of the art CMAC Performing Arts Center in
Mozart Grand Mass in C Minor, Saturday, July 29, at Chautauqua Institution, with an additional performance
on Thursday, July 27, at Hochstein Performance Hall in Rochester.
Not only did we have the privilege of performing at the RPO's inaugural
concert at the brand spanking new spectacular 5000 seat Performing Arts Center in Canandaigua, we performed at Chautauqua
Institution again. This was our third year in a row to be invited to perform at this idyllic summer oasis of art and culture.
Interesting factoid: with combined CMAC and Chautauqua audiences totaling over 7,000 in 2006, the Choral Festival has performed
before almost 20,000 concert goers in just four short years.
2005 – Verdi Requiem at Chautauqua
After stirring performances of the Brahms
Requiem at Chautauqua Institution in 2004 (see comments below) and the Verdi Requiem with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra
at the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center in 2003, it was a challenge to come up with a program to match these exhilarating
experiences - - but we did!
It was a day few will forget, with an afternoon rehearsal in the historic Amphitheater,
surrounded by brilliant sunshine with temperatures in the upper 70's, followed by a sumptuous buffet dinner for singers
and their guests in the Victorian spendor of the Athenaeum Hotel, an hour or two for a leisurely stroll on the timeless Institution
grounds, an then a magnificent performance under the sparkling stars over crystal clear Chautauqua Lake.
300 voices of the combined Finger Lakes Choral Festival and Rochester Oratorio Society shimmered in the night air with the
haunting strains of "Requiem aeternum" and then exploded into the roof-raising "Dies irae," thrilling
the audience of over 4000 appreciative music lovers. Glowing comments abounded afer a performance, under the direction of
internatonally acclaimed conductor Uri Segal, that was nothing less thanspectacular.
As reviewed by the Chautauquan
Daily: "This vibrant and beautiful performance of Verdi's masterpiece will rank as the outstanding event
of this summer's Chautauqua Symphony season."
To read the complete review, click on the "Photos"
2004 – Brahms Requiem with the RPO and at Chautauqua
"Peak experience" and other superlatives were in the air at the conclusion of the 2004 Finger Lakes Choral Festival.
After an inspirational performance of the Brahms Requiem on July 25, with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, we didn't
think there could be a more exciting encore - - but we were wrong!
On July 31, the chorus traveled to historic
Chautauqua Institution for a repeat performance as part of a 465 voice massed chorus of singers from the Choral Festival,
symphony choruses from Buffalo and Erie, and a Chautauqua regional chorus. The legendary Chautauqua Amphitheater drew an
audience of well over 4,000. Now that was an experience we won't soon forget!
Debut performance: Verdi Requiem with the RPO
The newly formed Finger Lakes Choral
Festival created an instantaneous sensation on the local music scene by drawing together 200 singers from over 50 regional
communities, including visitors from a dozen states and countries, to stage a rousing performance of Verdi's great masterpiece
at the Finger Lakes Performing Arts Center with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.