Finally we are able to enjoy the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra at the Cleland Theatre again.
It was quite an odyssey through a variety of venues last season. In last Saturday’s OSO concert all seats were taken as the lights dimmed for John Estacio’s adagio for strings Such Sweet Sorrow.
This reflective piece had contemporary harmonics that were poignant without harshness. There were laments reminiscent of Hebrew chants on solo violin, viola and cello. They alternated with the full orchestra weaving a tapestry of kaleidoscopic sounds that built up to a climax and diminished into a delicate shimmering whisper that ended in perfect silence.
Music is not merely entertainment. It also can be an expression of the full spectrum of human emotion, a vital part of religious and civic ceremonies, and a great comfort in times of darkness. All this is true for Mozart’s Requiem, the great composer’s final oeuvre in which he displays all the technical skill and emotional depth he acquired in his short life. It was wonderful to witness its performance last night.
Expectations rose as the 100 members of the Okanagan Symphony Chorus filed into their places behind the orchestra. Then the four soloists — soprano Melina Moore, mezzo-soprano Dana Luccock, tenor Isaiah Bell and baritone Alan Corbishley — appeared in dark suits and sparkling gowns.
The singing blended beautifully with the orchestra. Mozart’s instrumentation excluded the flutes and the French horn but featured bassoons and basset horns which gave it a sombre, haunting colour that resembled the human voice. The Latin words rang in the ears like magic incantations as the drama of after-life according to Christian beliefs unfolded in the music. It was a passionate dialogue with God: fear of judgment, pleading for mercy, intimate prayer, loving benediction and final triumph and adoration were expressed in masterfully crafted verses.
At the end, students of Penticton Academy of Music came on stage offering flowers to the soloists. The audience applauded enthusiastically and headed home with uplifted spirits.