Carmina Burana – Debauchery for the family

"Power. Drama. Excitement.And numbers.The power of more than 200 people on stage is very exciting, enthuses Bainbridge Chorale music director Anthony Spain. Chorale member Pat Putman is more succinct: It's a real audience pleaser. Spain and Putman are expounding on the delights of tomorrow's performance of Carmina Burana at the high school gym.It's very exciting to be singing with the full orchestra, says Chorale member Barbara Saur. It's a very exciting piece of music to sing. You give it all you've got for a full hour, and then you're hoarse."

  • Saturday, March 25, 2000 1:00pm
  • News

“Power. Drama. Excitement.And numbers.The power of more than 200 people on stage is very exciting, enthuses Bainbridge Chorale music director Anthony Spain. Chorale member Pat Putman is more succinct: It’s a real audience pleaser. Spain and Putman are expounding on the delights of tomorrow’s performance of Carmina Burana at the high school gym.It’s very exciting to be singing with the full orchestra, says Chorale member Barbara Saur. It’s a very exciting piece of music to sing. You give it all you’ve got for a full hour, and then you’re hoarse. The 100-member Chorale, which will be accompanied by the Northwest Symphony Orchestra, has been rehearsing since the beginning of January. Spain describes the work as a musical drama, an incredibly energetic piece of music. It grabs you from the first chord. It evokes a very visceral response. Composed by Carl Orff in 1936, Carmina Burana is based on a 13th Century collection of approximately 200 songs that the program notes say lament the wickedness of the world, the decay of morals and the evil power of money, juxtaposed against rough songs about drinking, gambling, lovemaking, and even a song about a once-glorious swan now singing as it is being roasted on the spit. The manuscript containing the songs was discovered in 1803 in an ancient monastery in the Bavarian Alps. In 1935, Orff came upon text published in the mid-1800s and chose those sections that tell people something that will make them think. The often ribald songs were probably written by traveling musicians/actors and scholars. The music may seem familiar to many in the audience, as it is widely used in movie soundtracks, most notably Excalibur, to create a sense of drama. It’s a little bit modern, real earthy kind of music used when something traumatic happens in the film, said Jerry Waddell, music director for the Sakai Intermediate School. Waddell’s involvement is part of what makes this performance exceptional. Two parts for treble voices will be sung by his 24-voice Sakai Intermediate School chorus, while several other selections will be performed by 42 students in the Bainbridge High School concert choir under the direction of Don Pearce. Waddell commends the dedication of the students who gave up their recess time every Tuesday and Thursday since mid-January. However, he adds, it’s hard to get fifth and sixth graders to remember to come during recess, and others had band rehearsal conflicts. So we’ve never actually had the whole group together in one rehearsal! The high school kids are really bumped up about it, says Pearce, who is in his thirteenth year as high school music director. Pearce adds: The students have gotten a new perspective watching these people who are singing long after their high school years, doing it as volunteers, and how good they are. Spain, who recently took over as music director for the 30-year-old Bainbridge Chorale, says, It’s been a lot of fun working with the schools. The teachers have been great. This kind of experience – where there’s so much excitement, where the piece is so powerful, where you’re working among so many different people – is one the students won’t ever forget. Or the audience.”

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