Artistic Director & Conductor: Mark Shapiro
Gibbons: O Lord, In Thy Wrath
Farrant: Hide Not Thou Thy Face
Gibbons: O Clap Your Hands Together
Victory: Seven Songs of Experience
Nobody has ever had to twist my arm for me to take a day off in the middle of the week – or at any other time, for that matter – especially when the day includes a sadly short but predictably uplifting musical treat for lunch, and just within (extended) walking distance from my apartment at that.
Therefore, after attending La Campana sommersa with the New York City Opera down Broadway in the Rose Theater at Columbus Circle last Tuesday night, I found myself up Broadway in an acoustically blessed room of the massive Interchurch Center in Morningside Heights last Wednesday afternoon. That's where a slightly reduced but still resolutely blazing Cantori New York led by Mark Shapiro was scheduled to perform a few works from their last concert's program as part of the facility's Wednesday Noonday Concerts series.
Back to where the original concert started, The three Tudor motets by Orlando Gibbons and Richard Farrant came vibrantly alive in all their polyphonic glory while exploring the universal dualism of darkness and light. Religionism oblige, the texts of Gibbons' "O Lord, In Thy Wrath" and Farrant's "Hide Not Thou Thy Face" were essentially stern and moralistic, but Gibbons' "O Clap Your Hands Together" eventually allowed the singers and the rest of us to let loose and indulge in a bit of irrational exuberance.
From England we then moved to Ireland for a persuasive taste of Gerard Victory's Seven Songs of Experience. The entire piece being unfortunately too long to fit into the allowed time, we still got to enjoy three songs that had been democratically selected – which means, just to be clear, selected by popular vote – by the choir. Turns out that those chosen few were also arguably the most popular ones during the Saturday night performance I attended a couple of weeks, although the unquestionable biggest hit of that evening, the dauntingly challenging for the choir and irresistibly catchy for the audience "Human Abstract", was alas left out.
But the samples offered on Wednesday afternoon were more than satisfying, "The Sunflower" beautifully blossomed in many vivid colors again in a rousing celebration of the sun and youth. Changing our focus from plants to animals, we witnessed the relentless existential musings of "The Fly", which proved once and for all that some insects have feelings too, before boldly venturing into the jungle for the popular "Tyger Tyger", the most substantial and energetic song of the day, which eloquently emphasized the wonder and fear inspired by such a majestic and ferocious creature in a fiercely enjoyable closing number.