The big piece was a rare performance of Satie's ambitious 40-minute cantata, in the version for baritone (Kelly) and piano (Fowler). If you think of Satie as the witty composer of teasing songs or achingly pretty tunes, you'd be startled by the austerity of these settings of Plato, ending with the death of Socrates. And seeing dancers who were not playing individual characters made Socrate more like a Bach Passion, in which the chorus and soloists convey how they have each absorbed the lessons of the story.
It's all thoroughly French, as if Debussy were hovering over the music, with a narrow but intense dynamic range. Kelly was right to sing without "acting out." His sense of classical detachment — and precise French diction — was all the more moving; Fowler played with fluid dignity and graceful inwardness. Unfortunately, the Emerson Majestic was not equipped to project the supertitles as Morris envisioned them — that is, traveling across the back of the stage as if part of the dance. The translations were in the program, but during the performance, we remained in more than one way in the dark.
Award for Zander
This just in: Benjamin Zander, music director of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, who after being let go from the New England Conservatory as, among other duties, director of the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and who has recently announced the inception of a Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, has just been presented with the Youth Orchestra of the America's 10th Anniversary Award. The press release reads:
"Zander is being honored not only for his inspirational leadership with YOA over the last ten years, but for his invaluable contribution to the youth symphony movement across the Americas."
The award was presented in Washington, DC, by the Chilean Ambassador to the United States, the Honorable Felipe Bulnes. This summer, Zander will return to Chile to conduct two YOA concerts, lead a 10-day workshop ,and then conduct and do intensive workshops with the National Youth Symphony Orchestra of the Dominican Republic.