/ “Astonishing quality” – BYSO’s Gewandhaus concert review!

As we flew home from tour Monday morning, a very praising review of our June 10 Gewandhaus performance was featured in the Leipziger Volkszeitung.*   Youth Choirs from Leipzig Make Music with the Youth Orchestra from Boston The Youth Choirs of the Gewandhaus and the Leipzig Opera under the direction of Federico Cortese in the Gewandhaus together with the Youth Orchestra of the Boston Symphony Orchestras have given a concert of music from Leipzig and Boston.
Choirs from Leipzig, Orchestra from Boston: Joint project of the German-American Choir- and Orchestra Academy in the Gewandhaus. Source: Andre Kempner
Leipzig. With one’s eyes closed the matter is clear: A US orchestra. Perhaps not one of the Big Five. For every once in a while a shadow passes over the crystalline perfection. But it’s a damned good orchestra. In any event, hardly anyone with their eyes shut in the hall on this Sunday evening would arrive at the idea that this was a youth orchestra. What the Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras, under the direction of their conductor Federico Cortese, accomplishes here, for example with Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, this should cause even some professional musical ensembles in this country to blush. String players full of luster and melodiousness, woodwind players without any flaw, over all an almost frightening professionalism and cultivation. No question: The youth division of the Boston Symphony Orchestras too accounts for the fact that the metropolis considers itself the capital of classical music in the United States. Of course, this amazing quality cannot be had for free. And the determination displayed when Cortese presses downwards the necks of his protégés during the applause, the powerful slaps on the shoulder with which he channels his respect, all this looks more than just a little like a satisfied drill sergeant. This does not decrease the popularity of his orchestra. The waiting lists are long, at auditions the aspirants coil in long lines through the hallway. The Bostonians have come to Leipzig for a collaboration with local youth choirs. They have already made music in the Market Place, now comes the great closing concert in the Gewandhaus. On the program of the Bach Festival evening, in order to make the musical bridge building audible as well: works from Boston and from Leipzig. The latter feature the already mentioned "Scottish Symphony" and the opening chorale from Bach’s Magnificat, for which the Bostonians could still use a little more stylistic fine-tuning and the combined youth choirs from the Gewandhaus and the Opera a bit more coloratura fine-tuning. At the beginning, however, Sophie Bauer from the Leipzig Opera conducted four motets from the pen of Aaron Copland and showed the instrumentalists from overseas the way with her choral combination: immaculate in intonation and articulation, delicately developed, the pious and yet eminently artful naivité of the movements, bound together to achieve an other-worldly beauty. Much more this-worldly do Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms get down to business. And in this celebration of the joy of life and of the trust in God the best of both worlds comes together. Cortese has the reins firmly in hand, he leaves nothing to chance with the choir and orchestra. Nevertheless, the result sounds unfettered and sensual – not like a drill but like serious fun with the subject matter. The orchestra is resplendent with a vehement virtuosity, the choirs follow with a musical-dramatical splendor of color. And in the midst of all on his lonely island of contemplation: the twelve-year-old boy contralto Ruben Lorenz of the Gewandhaus Youth Choir with the unearthly beautiful “Adonai”- incantations, sovereign, imperturbable, sparkling clean. A pretty great concert, this frenetically acclaimed concert. It should give cause to further expand the transatlantic musical bridge. By Peter Korfmacher Leipziger Volkszeitung Translations by Hermann Schibli *Leipziger Volkszeitung is the same Leipzig newspaper who covered a story on our collaboration with the Leipzig choirs last week (read that article here!).