Review of concert Oct. 18, 2009

October 22nd, 2009

A Musical and Spiritual Treat!

How many times I have attended concerts which were artistically good and exciting but this time, on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 18, 2009, at Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, CA, I heard a program of artistic beauty with a spiritual connection …sung by the California Redwood Chorale under the leadership of Gerry Schultz, and directed by their efficient and experienced director, Daniel Canosa, a native of Argentina who now works in the Bay Area.

The program was called “American to Hungarian”, with music from both countries.
The American part, sung before intermission, was dominated by the mezzo soprano voice of Bonnie Brooks, who is equally at home in sacred, classical, and the jazzy and blues styles of singing.  Of the composers represented, the Ned Rorem numbers were my favorites. Paul Murray, baritone soloist, sang with resonant clear tones. Gary Foster, tenor soloist, brought a rich tenor sound to his featured part. David Manley played the piano for both the soloists and the Chorale, using a sensitive touch.

The highlight of the program was the Zoltan Kodaly Missa Brevis, an eight part Mass which was composed during World War II in the cellar of a Budapest convent.  It was performed in 1945 in the Budapest Opera House, where Kodaly and his wife sought refuge during the final days of the war. The work was intended to be an act of spiritual supplication rather than a gesture of nationalism.  Accompanying this work was David Parsons, organist, who made the work reverberate through the building, despite the lack of acoustical grandeur.  I would like to hear this work many times, as a tribute to this amazing Hungarian composer, ethnomusicologist, linguist, philosopher, and educator.
Santa Rosa is indeed fortunate to have such accomplished musicians to perform works of such proportion!  This program will travel to Hungary in June to join Hungarians in their own music!  It should be great!

Congratulations to all for a job well done, and to Incarnation Church for making this beautiful space available for choir, organ, and piano!  The sun shining through the skylight and through the stained glass windows lent an aura of worship for us to be moved by the beauty of sound and sight together for a spiritual awakening.

Carolyn A. Wiester
Dean, Redwood Empire Chapter, American Guild of Organists