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MIT music groups perform a heartfelt Requiem


Rich Fletcher--The Tech
Conductor John Oliver (center) and soloists Ken Goodson and Kendra Cotton stand for applause following Friday night's performance of Ein deutches Requiem, in Kresge Auditorium. The performance featured the MIT symphony orchestra, MIT concert choir, and MIT chamber chorus members.

MIT Presents the Brahms' Requiem

MIT Concert Choir and Chamber Chorus & the MIT Symphony Orchestra.

John Oliver, conductor.

Soloists: Kendra Colton, soprano; Kenneth Goodson '89, baritone.

Kresge Auditorium.

Friday, May 5 at 8 p.m.

By Craig K. Chang
Associate arts editor

I don't think the MIT Symphony Orchestra pretends to be a finely-oiled machine. Continuously gravitating toward some of the most difficult music fathomable, they and the MIT Concert Choir seem to run on pure courage and love for the music they choose.

During Friday night's performance of Brahms' Ein deutsches Requiem (A German Requiem), Op. 45, the MITSO and Concert Choir proved that there is musical life without flawless technique. Though no paragon of professionalism, the ensemble somehow sang and played their hearts to admirable heights.

As a meditation on the living and the dead, the Requiem exists on a spiritual plane far above the notes themselves. Friday's performance under the direction of John Oliver feverishly expressed the elusive joys trapped within layers of mourning. After a solemn opening, the chorus entered with an ethereal sound, emanating a sort of glorious vigor. And as brilliant fugues that serve to culminate passion neared, the players simply couldn't retain their excitement.

Other instances of brimming zeal seemed also to drown out soloists Kendra Colton (soprano) and Kenneth Goodson '89 (baritone) during movements five and six. Goodson's voice projected boldness worthy to compete with the intensity of the chorus. Yet the interplay between Colton and the chorus was much less accommodating such that even her firm high range seemed unable to leash in her partners.

As the performers expressed it, the Requiem seemed to embody something of light that passes through darkness. Sweetly innocent sopranos shuttled audiences to realms outside death and pain. The resurrection during the sixth movement, in which the climax queries, "[Grave, where is thy victory]?" stretched into a magisterial fugue that shed light on the exhortations of previous movements. Gradually, an increasing sense of revelation blossomed from the grim march of the second movement.

The MITSO and Concert Choir themselves seemed to extend from these dichotomies - from the cramped stage, they scattered bits of light in spite of the technical concerns that usually forecast disaster. Even through the rust, one could taste their ardor. Even if their sense of the music's arch was often truncated, no mistakes fazed the musicians and their drive.

At end of the piece, the performers seemed to have taken an exhilarating journey, fully aware of the difficulties beforehand. Nearing this conclusion, they closed back upon that initial inspiration between two diametrics of sadness and joy. The final chords briefly hushed the audience, and following was zealous applause - a most deserving consolation.

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This story was published on .
Volume 115, Number 24.
This story appeared on page 8.

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