Back in February I attended an NAC Orchestra performance of Faure’s Requiem and wrote about my love for that work and other Requiems (Requia?) To close the Main Series portion of the season, the orchestra performed another requiem last night that stands in stark contrast to Faure’s bright and sunny mass for the dead.
Verdi’s Requiem is big, dark, dramatic, and in several places it’s just a wee bit scary. Last night’s performance was about 90 minutes of straight music, but it was never boring. A lot of that had to do with the quality of the performance, but Verdi also included so much variety that your attention never waivers.
There are few things more thrilling that the opening of the Dies Irae. Verdi unleashes the chorus and orchestra, and I’m instantly reminded of the power 225 musicians and singers have at their disposal (no amplification required). Of course, when the text reads “Day of wrath and terror looming! Heaven and earth to ash consuming, David’s word and Sibyl’s truth foredooming! What horror must invade the mind, when the approaching judge shall find,and sift the deeds of all mankind”, you better go big or go home.
I once had the chance to play the bass drum part, and it was one of the most memorable performances I ever did. Despite our reputation for being loud, percussionists often have to play really softly (triangle, anyone?), so there is something deeply satisfying about getting the opportunity to whack the hell out of the bass drum.
The soprano for last night’s concert was Arianna Zukerman, the daughter of our Music Director. I thought it was touching that when Pinchas came out at the start of the concert he grabbed her hand and gave it a little squeeze for encouragement. Performing in front of 2,000 is nerve-racking for most people, and I have to imagine it’s comforting to know your dad is on stage next to you.