At last night’s historic performance of the Monteverdi Vespers, about five minutes before we were to begin, a worried Carl Crosier came over to me at the organ and asked, “Do you know what’s going on? The bridge on Richard Savino’s theorbo has fallen off because of the humidity!”
It was a rainy and humid night, and people were streaming into St. Theresa’s Co-Cathedral, anxious to find out if all the hype about a 400-year-old piece of music was real.
Carl said, “You’re going to have to play the whole piece, and John Renke will have to sightread the Audi Coelum on the lute stop of the harpsichord!” Originally, we were planning to have this movement played on theorbo alone, so I had not rehearsed it. But we had to move forward, and as the choir gathered in the back of the church, and started to sing the ancient plainchant, Gaudium mundi, everyone was immediately transported to another time and place.
A tremendous sense of calm and serenity came over the musicians, in spite of everybody’s tiny bit of anxiety over the situation. Out of all the thousands of figured bass chords the continuo had to play, I think there were only a couple where there was an unexpected “cross-relation.”
By the time of the second half, Super Glue had come to the rescue, and the theorbo was able to join us after an extended intermission. The performance was truly one of those rare occurrences when time stopped still and people’s hearts and minds were touched by the incredibly sublime yet glorious music. I called it “ear candy” in a FaceBook post. Many people were weeping by the sheer beauty of it all. There was a sustained standing ovation, well-deserved by all the performers alike, and Carl Crosier had pulled another rabbit out of the hat to bring this performance together in essentially three days, another triumph, another miracle.
Here are some of the comments people emailed to us:
THANK YOU for that gift of music! BEAUTIFUL! The sustained standing ovation said it all. 🙂 What a major production, too! You two are quite a team given all the work that went into this (amongst everything else this year!). —D.M.K.
Congratulations, Katherine, for all you have done to bring this event to those who can’t be there, but would love to. Derek is my son, and I was delighted to see, hear, and feel what is happening there. Thanks for warming my cold Saturday in North Georgia. –S. Chester
Tonight’s performance in Kalihi was wonderful, gorgeous, precise and incandescent — really astounding and deserving of the standing ovation it received. The combination of choir and soloists, string and wind sections and acoustics created a very bright and “colorful” sound. But above all this is a vocal work and the voices — whether in chorus, small combo or solo — were on it. This piece has some really crazy tenor solos and the crazy tenor soloists made crazy work of it. Man, I might show up at Sunday’s gig. — H. D. M.
Yes! come to St. Andrew’s Cathedral for more Monteverdi! The performance is Sunday, Nov. 7th at 4 pm.