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City Choir of Washington à la Française

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Read my review published today in the Washington Post:

Charles T. Downey, Robert Shafer and City Choir at Cathedral of St. Thomas More
Washington Post, March 16, 2010

available at Amazon
Poulenc, Litanies à la vierge noire
Robert Shafer offered a tribute to French music with the City Choir of Washington at Arlington's Cathedral of St. Thomas More on Sunday night. More specifically it was a personal homage to his own education with Nadia Boulanger, the legendary muse of so many American musicians. The spartan harmonies of the austere opening work, the "Hymne au Soleil" by Nadia's sister Lili Boulanger, set a serious tone for the evening.

Maurice Duruflé's Requiem Mass was the centerpiece of this concert, rescheduled after being canceled by the record-breaking snows last month. More than any other composer, Duruflé was able to preserve the unmetered flow of Gregorian chant melodies within a modern harmonic and rhythmic context, and the result can be either meditative or soporific, depending on your inclination. The devotion and intensity of the choir's volunteer singers impressed more than the musical quality; the singing was sometimes rough and unfinished in terms of intonation and beauty of phrasing, making for a concert that was mostly enjoyable, if not distinguished. [Continue reading]
City Choir of Washington
Music of Duruflé, Boulanger, Poulenc
Cathedral of St. Thomas More (Arlington, Va.)

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