Pacific Chorale winds up its spring series of American music with a bang in “Revelations, Revolutions” on Saturday at the Orange County Performing Artscenter.
The program pairs the West Coast premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici’s pyrotechnic “Paul Revere’s Ride” with “Hora Novissima,” American composer Horatio Parker’s rarely performed, redemptive Victorian-era masterwork.
Performed with the Pacific Symphony and conducted by chorale artistic director John Alexander, it features Lori Stinson (amplified soprano), Jennifer Roderer (mezzo-soprano), Nicholas Preston (tenor) and Malcolm MacKenzie (baritone). Noted organist Brian Jones also performs.
Written in response to 9/11, Del Tredici’s patriotic, “wild frenzy” of a work, based on the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem, takes the audience “on a wild ride,” Alexander said. “They’ll need to fasten their seat belts. And then we get to sit back and relish the beauty of Parker’s late 19th century composition.”
“Hora Novissima,” he said, was at one time a ubiquitous favorite that fell out of favor with the advent of World War I. “I’m usually not one that goes back and revives unknown works, but I think that this work has gotten a bad deal. It is the best American work for chorus and orchestra from that period in our history.”
“Paul Revere’s Ride,” about the American patriot who rode through the night to warn of an impending British attack, is a “wonderful match” for Parker’s work, drawn from Bernard of Cluny’s 12th century meditation on the kingdom of heaven.
Del Tredici’s piece -- with battling themes from “Yankee Doodle” and “Rule, Britannia,” sirens in the percussive section and a “frenzied” depiction of Paul Revere’s ride -- “is as far away stylistically as you can get from the Novissima,” Alexander said, yet the celebration of darkness to light “is what both compositions do in totally different ways.”
-- Lynne Heffley