Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in Carmina Burana

The Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus rocked the Ohio Theater with Carmina Burana.(Photo: Columbus Symphony)
The Columbus Symphony Orchestra and Chorus rocked the Ohio Theater with Carmina Burana.(Photo: Columbus Symphony)

Note: I hope you enjoy my take on last night’s concert.

Full disclosure: I am compensated by the CSO to be their pre- concert speaker-so read on, and by all means come one hour early to all CSO Classical concerts!

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It was a good house in the Ohio Theatre last night, and enthusiastic crowd complete with the “buzz” of those waiting for something to happen.

Happen it did when Jean-Marie Zeitouni took the stage and the microphone to welcome the audience to a new season. He led us in Stravinsky’s cheeky arrangement of The Star Spangled Banner. Already on stage with the orchestra, -the Columbus Symphony chorus led the singing with gusto.

Jennifer Higdon describes her blue cathedral (lower case hers) as glittering lights and the sun and blue sky seen through a great crystal church. The work is dedicated to her late brother, a clarinetist, that instrument is featured prominently along with the flute (Jennifer’s instrument). Randall Hester and David Thomas wove their lines expertly around one another with beauty of tone always to the forefront. Zeitouni has the orchestra play this tricky score with a polish not always heard in the Ohio Theater. In short, orchestra and conductor were splendid in this terrific work.

And then there’s Carmina Burana. Carl Orff’s cantata is based on medieval manuscripts extolling wine, women and all kinds of fornication. The lusty CSO chorus (Ronald Jenkins, music director)  sang in Latin, alte Deutsch and Provencal. When was the last time you sang in Provencal?

Zeitouni let the piece play. I take nothing away from the splendid choral work-perfect in  intonation and ensemble-when I say that for the first time I listened closely to the orchestra in Carmina Burana. The brass were especially splendid, and the rondel dance was dark and dramatic. Menacing rather than frivolous.

Tenor Frederic Antoun was impressive as the unfortunate swan complaining of being roasted to death.  He sang  from an upstairs box-and the treacherous vocal lines were easy for him. Keith Phares has a fine baritone voice. His impeccable line was a nice contrast to Orff’s jagged rhythms for the chorus. -I left a bit early and missed hearing soprano Aline Kutan. I’m told it was a mistake to have missed her.

What I and many others did not miss was a splendid night with the Columbus  Orchestra, the opening night of the first season planned by Mr. Zeitouni. I’ll never leave early again.

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