Choral music figures prominently in the programming of the Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra for the coming week. The major offering will be the "German Requiem" by Brahms, a highly untraditional liturgical work in that its text, drawn from Martin Luther's German translation of the Bible, shifts its emphasis away from concern for the soul of the deceased and is more focused on consoling the bereaved. This one work will make up the program scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Saturday in the Amphitheater. Featured under the baton of Uriel Segal will be soprano Benita Valente, baritone Grant Youngblood, a massed choir made up of the Rochester Oratorio Society, Erie Philharmonic Chorus and Chautauqua Regional Choir and the orchestra. Brahms' Requiem has a warmly radiant, quiet, expansive beauty, and should be deeply moving.
The other choral contribution from the CSO is of a drastically different nature. Guest conductor Kazuyoshi Akiyama, a favorite of Chautauqua audiences, will be on the Amphitheater podium at 8:15 p.m. Tuesdayfor a program consisting of Mozart's Symphony No. 36 in C ("Linz") and Gustav Holst's ever-popular "The Planets." It's not just because of its length that the seven movements of "The Planets" are often truncated to four, five or six, but also because the last movement, "Neptune, the Mystic," requires extra preparation, with its wordless women's chorus helping to evoke the timeless void of space out beyond our solar system. The women's voices are used more subtly and ephemerally than in, say, Debussy's "Sirens," and fade gradually with the orchestra into that void, leaving listeners wondering where, exactly, the music has finally stopped. The other six movements are much more conventional in structure, embracing the rigidity of "war," the serenity of "peace," the folk music buoyancy of "jollity" and the inexorable approach of "old age." For this performance Chautauqua choral director John Grigsby has assembled and trained a women's chorus from various choirs and from voice students in the School of Music.
-- Herman Trotter
Those who love organ music could find themselves in seventh heaven on Sunday at 5 p.m. in Slee Hall on the University at Buffalo North Campus, as they wait for the first notes to come pouring out of the superb Fisk Organ in the second annual free "Afternoon With Eastman Organists" program. On tap are mini-recitals by four of the top young organ students at Rochester's prestigious Eastman School of Music: J. Christopher Pardini, Bruce Frank, Jennifer Pascual and Christopher Marks. Their programs will include two works each by Bach, Sweelinck and Mendelssohn plus a single work by Boehm and generous representation from the 20th century French school (Widor, Dupre and Alain's exciting "Litanies"), and American contemporaries (Samuel Adler and Joseph Ahrens). The longest work of the afternoon will be Mendelssohn's Sonata No. 1 in F minor.
-- Herman Trotter
KING OF THE PARK
Kings are supposed to act kingly, but Shakespeare's Richard II is more a prince or a poet among men. It's as though Hamlet were raised to the throne. Richard is self-conscious, introspective, a good king for peacetime but not war. Richard's bloodlust runs low for battles royal. And it is wartime in "Richard II." Still Shakespeare puts some of his finest poetry into the mouth of Richard. Even in the worst of bad times Richard turns his refined mind to talking about what it is really like to be a king. Richard Wesp will play Richard II in outdoor performances Thursday through Aug. 24 in Delaware Park off Lincoln Parkway. Directing the production for Shakespeare in Delaware Park is Nancy N. Doherty. Besides Wesp, she has Jim Mohr returning to the city to play the Duke of York. Mohr has performed with Chicago's Steppenwolf and was seen on Broadway in its production of "Buried Child." Others are Philip Knoerzer as Bolingbroke, Joseph Natale as John of Gaunt, May Loftus as the Duchess of Gloucester, Sandra Walter as Queen Isabella, among many others. The free performances are at 7:30 p.m., weather permitting.
-- Terry Doran