Last month, the Los Angeles Master Chorale held a black-tie gala event celebrating the end of its season, and the last performance in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Beginning this fall, the LAMC will find its new home across the street from the Chandler Pavilion, at the new Walt Disney Concert Hall. This final concert was called "It's A Wrap!", and was indented to be salute to film composers.
Conductor Grant Gershon began the concert with the "Overture" and "Agincourt Song" from William Walton's score to the 1944 version of Henry V. From there, John Williams's emotionally building "Dry Your Tears, Afrika" from Amistad was performed. This was followed by a choir-only performance of "Down to the River To Pray" from O Brother, Where Art Thou, arranged by composer J.A.C. Redford. Starting off with a duet by soloists Amy Fogerson and Alice Kirwan Murray, the emotional impact of these two pieces back to back was truly rousing.
We then moved on to a truly amazing piece of music. Before he did Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, composer Cliff Eidelman scored a drama about the Holocaust called Triumph of the Spirit. Featuring soloists, the full choir and full orchestra, this suite in eight parts was something I had never heard before, and the emotion and beauty of it was truly stunning. Eidelman was present in the audience, and he received a well deserved standing ovation when it was over.
We then came to the world premiere of a new piece by computer game composer Jeremy Soule. It's not film music, so this was more of a symphonic piece than anything else. Entitled "Extase", it is inspired by a poem by French author Victor Hugo. Using two soloists (Sal Malaki and Deborah Mayhan), the piece was quite enjoyable, if just a tad long. Soule was also present, and received a well deserved ovation as well.
After the intermission, we were treated to music from Danny Elfman's Edward Scissorhands, Jerry Goldsmith's "The Mission" from The Sum of All Fears, a suite from Titanic (that sadly included none of the action cues), and "The Sonnenscheins" from Maurice Jarre's score to Sunshine. Disappointedly, none of these composers were in the audience.
The concert ended with a performance of "St. Crispin's Day" from Patrick Doyle's score to Henry V. As a special treat, award-winning actor René Auberjonois read the speech, and it was truly fiery and impassioned. The orchestra swelling behind him didn't hurt, of course. From there it went directly into "Non Nobis Domine", which started off with Randall Bills performing solo, and slowly the rest of the choir and orchestra joined in for a truly stunning finale.
Steamers fill the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion following the Los Angeles Master Chorale’s "It’s a Wrap!" concert.
But, that wasn't to be the end of the concert! For a finale, Gershon and the LAMC performed "Alleluia", written by LAMC founder Roger Wagner. As the piece was featured in a short subject film about the Roger Wagner Chorale - directed by Alfred Newman - it was fitting in more ways than one.
Jane McAniff and video game composer Jeremy Soule.
The concert was followed by a black-tie gala, entitled "On Wings of Steel", which was honoring the architect of the LAMC's new home (the Walt Disney Concert Hall), Frank Gehry. Featuring a champagne reception, luxury auction, dinner and dancing, the gala raised $150,000 for the LAMC, and the evening was truly a success.
(l-r) Los Angeles Master Chorale Music Director Grant Gershon, film composers J.A.C. Redford and Cliff Eidelman, and Tony Award-winning actor René Auberjonois.
Special thanks to Libby Huebner for all her help with this article. Photos by Adam Timrud (Salem Photo).