Carl Orff – Carmina Burana
Leonard Bernstein – Chichester Psalms
Igor Stravinsky – Symphony of Psalms

Brussels Choral Society
Ensemble Orchestral de Bruxelles
Julie Gebhart – soprano
Teun Michiels – tenor
Michael Adair – baritone
Julia O’Connor – soprano (a member of La Monnaie Children’s and Youth Choir)

Eric Delson

This concert celebrates the 40th anniversary of the Brussels Choral Society and features music by three 20th century composers. It could be headlined ‘Sacred and Profane’.

Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms from 1965 is lyrical, rhythmically quirky, but also an intensely moving blend of biblical Hebrew verse and Christian choral tradition.  

Igor Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but received its premiere in the Henry Le Boeuf Hall in the Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels in 1930. The work inhabits an unusual sound world in the symphonic repertoire: the orchestra requires no violins or violas, relying more on the woodwind to create a subtle balance between the choir and instruments. Using his neo-classical style, Stravinsky employs many traditional musical forms but delivers them in his uniquely recognisable contemporary idiom.
In contrast to these two profoundly sacred works, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana (1937) could not be less so! The composer was chiefly known as an educator; however, his lasting memorial is this work, which is neither lofty nor intellectual. Its appeal has always been the down-to-earth, primal directness of the music, and the vivid imagery of the bawdy and erotic texts. The result is one of the most popular and enjoyable 20th century choral works.