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NMSO concert preview: ``Choral Spectacular,'' May 19, 2002

On Sunday, May 19, at 3pm, we performed a chorus-only concert at Central United Methodist Church. In early June, we'll record all this material as a CD.

Repertoire, in English except where noted:

Here is a preview article from the Albuquerque Journal of May 12, 2002:

Chorus' new work inspired by poem

by David Steinberg, Journal Staff Writer

The New Mexico Symphony Chorus next Sunday will premiere a five-minute work written by one of its own---basso Alf Houkom.

Titled The Red Pear Tree, it is based on a poem of the same name by Lucile Adler of Santa Fe.

Houkom wrote it for four-part mixed chorus and piano, with the NMSO Chorus and pianist Maribeth Gunning in mind. The symphony commissioned the work.

``Musically, it's very descriptive and in a way very romantic,'' said NMSO resident conductor Roger Melone, who will conduct the concert.

``It has the kinds of dissonances in it that you would expect from a living composer in our time, and at the same time it changes moods to fit the words and tries to be very descriptive,'' Melone said. ``It can be warm and quiet and sweet, and can be loud and harsh, depending on the line or the excitement of the poem. In that sense I think it's romantic.''

Houkom, a Corrales resident, said he started with the idea of using a New Mexico poet.

``What happened after that was that I was going through a lot of poetry collections in new and used bookstores,'' he said. ``This came out of a used book, a collection of her poetry. It's a poem that struck me as very close to my heart, something I empathized with.''

Adler's short poem opens this way:

Beside the read pear tree
And the ice-crusted pond, ready
To push off in broken shoes,
Antonio stands with his back to school...

Houkom, a veteran composer of mostly choral and vocal works, also has written a work that the Santa Fe Desert Chorale will perform next winter for its 20th anniversary.

The Red Pear Tree is one element of the NMSO Chorus' concert Sunday at Central United Methodist Church.

Also on the program are a group of Irish songs with NMSO harpist Anne Eisfeller, Benjamin Britten's Hymn to St. Cecilia with an extended solo by lyric soprano Marilyn Bernard, two Franz Schubert works for male chorus, Alexandre Gretchaninoff's Gladsome Light, Trois Chansons Bretonnes by Henk Badings, the cowboy song Streets of Laredo and two spirituals, Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley and The Battle of Jericho.

Houkom said the concert represents the first time he will sing a work that he has composed.

``It's a totally different experience to sing what you do than to write it. The roles are so dissimilar,'' he said. ``To sing it is more challenging than I thought. But now it's coming together and jelling, and once you're able to go through it completely---this is true with any music---it begins to form an entity that you can appreciate in better ways than in sections in a rehearsal.''

Next: NMSO concert review: Beethoven, ``Choral Fantasy,'' May 3, 2002
See also: New Mexico Symphony Orchestra Chorus: schedule and reviews, 1995–2011
Previous: NMSO concert review: Beethoven Ninth, Sep. 20, 2002
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2002/05/21 22:09:12