Alfred Newman Recital Hall is a decent concert hall for campus recitals held in the University of California. The theater seats about 280 people and provides remarkable acoustics which reminded me of my high school’s auditorium which was about five times bigger. Unfortunately, I took only a glimpse of what was inside because by the time I arrived on the campus, the hall was already full. However, with luck, I was still to score a seat in the lobby where they set up some chairs to accommodate more people. I was not able to see the actual performance on stage, but I very much appreciated the music from where I was. It was nostalgic. The Concert Choir performed songs which ranged from the time period of 1600s to the late 1900s, and were composed by the following: Manuel de Sumaya, Thomas Morley, Carlo Gesualdo, Benjamin Britten, Samuel Barber, and Johannes Brahms.
The first piece, Lamentation of Jeremiah by Manuel de Sumaya was striking. I can feel the sorrow in the song though the highly emotional melodic lines. The voices portrayed resonant sections and imitative sections which made the piece sound more complex.
The next piece was Fire, Fire, My Heart by Thomas Morley somewhat reminded me of Tempus est Iocundum that was played in one of our lectures in school. Although the thought was rather the opposite of Tempus est Iocundum, as it was about a lovesick person singing about his “burning heart, both pieces had a fast tempo and colorful rhythms.
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Third piece was by Carlo Gesualdo entitled O Vos Omnes. It featured sudden changes in tempo. Again, it was a melancholic work where I felt the grief, depression, and struggle the composer probably had while working on this piece.
Fourth, was Benjamin Britten’s Five Flower Songs comparing the death and wilting of daffodils to human life. At first, I can only hear two independent voice parts. Then later on, the upper voices sing the melody while the basses and the altos provide accompaniment.
Next is by Johannes Brahms called O Schone Nacht. The melody was dream-like and gave me the image of a lovely scene under a moonlit night. Syncopations in the piano created the feeling of anticipation as one is waiting for love to come.
Lastly, I heard something familiar. The air was filled with clapping and joyful singing. They sang a traditional gospel blues entitled, John the Revelator. The blues theme reminded me of my days when I was in Alabama on a Sunday morning. It started with a single theme then later on developed into a livelier rhythm as they started clapping and stomping their feet.
I left for the second part of the night for the Retrospective of the Music of Morten Lauridsen because it was getting late and I am only taking the bus. It was all a fulfilling night as I recalled my days when I was part of my high school choir back in the Philippines. However, I was waiting for my hairs to raise, the “Goosebumps”, as I was listening because back in high school, to us, not until we able to make the hair raise from our audience, it could still get better.