Chorale to perform `Voices of Light'

Oratorio will accompany 1928 film on Joan of Arc

composer will be present

November 11, 1999|By Mary Johnson | Mary Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In its premier performance in the Baltimore-Washington region, "Voices of Light," directed by J. Ernest Green, will be presented Saturday by the Annapolis Chorale with the composer, Richard Einhorn, attending.

The chorale will perform the oratorio as the composer intended, as an accompaniment to the screening of Carl Dreyer's 1928 silent film "The Passion of Joan of Arc."

It seems appropriate that the Annapolis Chorale should introduce this work here, because it seems to be the only group of musicians dedicated to bringing new music to Annapolis.

Known for its magnificent interpretations of contemporary composers Arvo Part, John Taverner and Henryk Gorecki, the chorale seems to be equally at home with Einhorn. And why not, when Einhorn's work has been described as reminiscent of Part and Gorecki, with its blend of New Age and medieval with elements of minimalism.

Einhorn's work presents the linguistic challenge of incorporating Latin, old and middle French, and Italian, in addition to the timing challenge of coordinating the live music to the action of the silent film.

"Voices of Light" is far from a mere film track. It is a full-blown oratorio in honor of Joan of Arc, composed to fit the timing of Dreyer's silent film masterpiece.

It features texts by medieval female mystics, poets and Joan of Arc. The work celebrates not only Joan of Arc, but also female heroism and spirituality. The score combines multilingual motets, none in English, and layers of sound that are medieval and timeless.

In performance of "Voices of Light," the full chorale and the Annapolis Chamber Orchestra will be joined by three soloists. All with impressive operatic backgrounds, they are soprano Amy Cofield, who has sung oratorio and opera; tenor Jeffrey Halili, who has also sung both; and baritone Scott Root, who was Alfio in the chorale's memorable "Cavalleria Rusticana" last season.

The 1928 film follows Joan's trial and burning, compressing seven months of her life into a single day.

The peasant girl from Orleans, who helped to crown a king and led armies into battle, heard voices directing her, and these are the "Voices of Light" in Einhorn's work.

Einhorn, a 1975 graduate of Columbia University, wrote scores for television programs. He discovered Dreyer's film in the archives of the New York Museum of Modern Art. He became fascinated by it, seeing the film 10 or 15 times before he started to compose for it.

Einhorn will be on hand for the performance at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. The film will be run in its entirety, accompanied by the chorale, chamber orchestra and soloists. A lecture will be presented at 7 p.m. and the concert at 8 p.m. There will be one performance.

Call the chorale at 410-263-1906 for information and reservations.

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