Planning a 35th anniversary party? You might wish to have a cake. Sparkling wine and cider are nice touches. And how about 200 singers, dancers, and musicians? I can barely organize a pot luck and have never thrown a party of that magnitude, but that’s how The Larimer Chorale kicked off its 35th season.
Although I don’t remember the specifics, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the LC perform, but this season-opener was a first-time (for me, at least) collaboration with the IMPACT Dance Company, the CSU Percussion Ensemble, and the Centennial Children’s Chorus. (Thus totaling nearly 200 performers.) And it was also the first event I’ve attended at the newly remodeled Lincoln Center.
Part I of the program showcased individual performances of the Chorale’s Soprano and Alto sections, the Percussion Ensemble with Soprano Tiffany Blake, and the Children’s Chorus. Each piece was unique, lovely, and done to perfection. Part II brought all the participants together for composer Carl Orff’s choral masterwork, Carmina Burana. You’ve no doubt heard the chorus, O Fortuna. It’s a favorite among filmmakers, as it’s the perfect dramatic music for good vs. evil epics such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. (Dozens of movie montages and remixes can be found on YouTube, if you're interested.)
What I did not know is that Orff’s Carmina Burana is a complicated staged work based on 24 poems from the medieval manuscript entitled—any guesses?—Carmina Burana. Some are love songs, but others are songs of nature, of morals, of drinking and gaming, including (from the program notes) “an operatic rant…told from the viewpoint of a swan being roasted on a spit at a drunken feast.” For anyone who has ever been stuck with a bar tab, check out these lyrics, also from the notes: “Large sums of money last too short a time when everybody drinks without moderation and limit, even though they drink with a happy heart; in this everyone sponges on us and it will make us poor. Damnation to those who sponge on us! Put not their names in the book of Just.”
Carmina Burana covers a pretty broad range of the human experience, as does the turning of the Fortune Wheel (left) on which it is based, and the singers, dancers, and instrumentalists more than did it justice. The performance was at times poignant, boisterous, meditative, and seductive. And I guarantee that I wasn’t the only one who got the chills from the opening and closing piece, the above-mentioned O Fortuna. Under the guidance of conductor/artistic director Michael Todd Krueger, the Chorale hit one out of the park in opening its 35th season. Kudos to everyone who helped stage this amazing show--and to the Lincoln Center for its improved acoustics.