If you think that we are exhausted after having gone to an ALCM conference in Portland where we were going nonstop day and night, then coming to Boston for the AGO marathon, you are right. We took the morning off to sleep in and have a leisurely breakfast.
The first concert we went to was at Old South Church for the Rising Stars program: competition winners from Regions I and II.
The most polished performer of the afternoon, we thought, was Ryan Kennedy, who played a toccata by Louis Vierne (listed erroneously in the program as Louise Vierne!) Sergi Prokofiev’s Music for Children, op. 65, and two pieces by Olivier Messiaen, Les enfants de Dieu and Dieu parmi nous from La nativité, all from memory. Did you know that I played Les enfants de Dieu for my master’s recital, and I haven’t heard or played it since! We went to a reunion dinner of Westminster Choir College alumni and I was afraid I wasn’t going to know a soul, since I graduated so many years ago. And yes, there were many new faces. But I was pleasantly surprised to see Tim Howard, who came to Hawaii quite a few years ago as the AGO District Convener, who I didn’t know was an alum, either!
Then we took a taxi to Church of the Advent where we went to a Solemn Evensong. I thought I’d share Scott Cantrell’s FaceBook post about it (he is the music critic in the Dallas area): Apart from maybe Gerre Hancock’s Requiem at St. Thomas NYC, I don’t know that any church service has moved me as deeply, and repeatedly, as tonight’s Solemn Evensong at Church of the Advent. With all due respect to J.S. Bach and others, I know no sacred music more exquisite, more full of chills-down-the-back moments than Herbert Howells’ Gloucester Mag and Nunc. Led by Mark Dwyer, with Ross Wood splendidly accompanying, the Advent choir brought those soaring lines and glowing harmonies to life as none other. What other composer so strategically writes alto and tenor lines to such vivid effect? The “as it was” sections of the “Gloria”s—those progressions!—had me struggling to keep some composure. And that organ! Those sounds! I left that place a different person than I had been before.
Following the service, organist John Scott played a recital of contemporary English composers. He was at St. Paul’s Cathedral London for many years until coming to America and is now at St. Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York. A cipher developed after the first piece, however, and so the audience waited for about ten minutes for Jonathan Ambrosino to save the day. John Scott said this happened once at St. Paul’s Cathedral London when the Queen visited, so we know this kind of thing happens to everybody. Unfortunately, he is a fine player, but most of the music was not memorable, except for the last selection, Recessional by William Mathias. This was a piece Joey Fala played while in high school, and we happened to see him after the concert!