Monday, September 12, 2011

9-11 Concert at Kennedy Center features movement from Bernstein's "Chichester Psalms"


On the evening of Sunday, Sept. 11, 2011, the Washington National Cathedral presented “A Concert for Hope” (“A Call for Compassion”) at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, hosted by Anderson Cooper. The venue was moved because of the earthquake damage situation at the Cathedral.

President Obama spoke.

The musical highlight of the evening (just one hour, on ABC) was the second movement of Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms (Psalm 23), solo part by a young person from Washington National Cathedral.  The musical style has always sounded to me like an outgrowth of the music in the Kaddish Symphony, with the Psalm 23 movement somewhat resembling the slow “song” section of the Kaddish. (The longer finale of Chichester is Psalm 131.)

Included also was the string orchestra version of the famous Adagio from Samuel Barber’s String Quartet (second movement, Op. 11).

There was also a rendition of “Amazing Grace”.  Also included were Alan Jackson and “Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning?” and Patti LaBelle with “Two Steps Away”.

Here is a link describing the artists in the concert.

Here is another blogger post giving the text of the President’s speech, link.  

I have a recording of Chichester Psalms with James Litton performing with the American Boychoir and American Symphony Orchestra, dated 1990, on the MusicMasters label.  The CD notes say this is the first recording of Bernstein's "original version." The CD also has a setting of a piece by Charles Davidson with a curious title, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, orchestrated by Donald Fraser.   There is a lot of a cappella and spoken text, and a musical style like that of John Rutter.  The text deals with conditions in the ghettos during the Holocaust.  (As for the title: Tiny Tim’s “OGAB” maybe.) 

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