Letter to the Editor – Daily Item – posted: Monday, October 20, 2014 3:23 pm
Last Sunday’s Susquehanna Valley Chorale concert was worthwhile in every way. They premiered Reaping the Whirlwind, for chorus, soloists and orchestra by the composer Jeffrey Van. The music was throughout appropriate and sensitive. Now that tonality is back, composers can once more write music that’s expressive and likeable without in any way compromising their integrity. Van is a composer who sets our language capably and for whom words have meaning and value. His setting of various texts from Crane, Whitman and others constantly heightened the meaning of these texts. I hear other choral organizations are already interested in doing the work. They’ll find it eminently worth their while.
The afternoon began with Randall Thompson’s more familiar Testament of Freedom. Although less subtle than the Van – it recalls some of the old Norman Corwin radio extravaganzas – to hear it live was still grand. The performances of all the artists were professional and then some. The chorale’s discipline and dynamic control constantly enhanced their music. Conductor William Payn again showed his genius for shaping a work with complete coherence. It’s as if, even before the first downbeat, he has in mind a complete picture of its form. I was reminded at every point of what an asset these artists are to our region.