For the first time in more than five years, the Bangor Symphony Orchestra played to a sold-out crowd at Sunday’s concert, which featured as its centerpiece Carl Orff’s monumental 25-part choral cantata, “Carmina Burana.” It was a fitting end cap to the BSO’s season.
Not only was every seat full, but every inch of space on the Collins Center for the Arts stage was taken up — by nearly 100 singers with the University Singers, the Oratorio Society and the Bangor Area Children’s Choir, and an orchestra full to bursting with extra percussionists, keyboardists and other musicians rounding out its ranks.
Maestro Lucas Richman began the concert with a spritely rendition of Mozart’s Symphony No. 35, the “Haffner” symphony, a lively and fun first course to prepare the audience for the entree: “Carmina Burana.” It is one of the most popular choral works in the classical repertoire, with its instantly recognizable opening and closing movements, “O Fortuna.”
In between that opening movement and its reprisal and the end, however, “Carmina” offers up a wealth of dramatic, evocative musical imagery, full of primitive, rhythmic chanting and wildly dynamic vocal solos from three singers. Baritone Christopher Sanders gave an entertaining and at times theatrical performance, ably inhabiting the musical role of a lustful drunk, while soprano Jennifer Barnett and tenor Andrew Skoog both were able to reach those seemingly impossible high notes their parts called for — Skoog has sung the cantata’s demanding tenor part countless times, all over the country.
The concert marked the end of an era for the University Singers and the Oratorio Society, both of whose directors, professors Dennis Cox and Lud Hallman, are retiring this year. The long, loud applause given at the end of “Carmina Burana” proved that both singing groups and the BSO both have important places in the community, and all are beloved by members and fans alike.
Looking forward to next year, the lineup for the 2014-2015 season also was announced at Sunday’s concert.
It includes a Spanish-themed concert featuring classical guitarist Ana Vidovic, Oct. 12; a “classical kings” concert featuring two Mozart works and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7, with featured pianist Daniel Shapiro, Nov. 23; a special concert featuring violin superstar Midori performing Schumann’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, Feb. 1, 2015; a Russian masters concert featuring works by Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich, as well as pianist Norman Krieger; and finally, the choral concert, featuring Vaughan-Williams’ “Serenade to Music,” April 12, 2015. The Robinson Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” performances are set for Dec. 20 and 21, and the Pops concert, set for March 21, will feature the music of Disney.
The Bangor Daily News is a sponsor of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra.