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Canterbury Choral Society ends 2012-13 season with a thrilling performance of Leonard Bernstein's 'Mass'

Canterbury/OCU production of Leonard Bernstein's “Mass” an overwhelming success.
Modified: April 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm •  Published: April 16, 2013

And just when Bernstein sensed that an audience may tire of the incessantly busy lyrics, he inserted two orchestral “Meditations,” a calming oasis from the noisy din of the growing dissatisfaction that played out onstage.

That culminated in the powerful “Things Get Broken,” a grueling number for the Celebrant in which he hurls the bread and shatters the chalice, a sort of liturgical mental breakdown. All alone, he realizes that only with help from others, can he restore a sense of purpose to life.

The return of “Almighty Father” brought the “Mass” full circle and sent the audience back out into the world with a sense of renewed hope and optimism. After taking listeners through this often harrowing experience, it provided the perfect sense of uplift.

Coordinating a performance of Bernstein's “Mass” required months of preparation that involved Ben Nilles' assistance with orchestral rehearsals and Judith Willoughby's fine training of the children's chorus led by Jessie Muckleroy.

Also, David Herendeen's dramatic and innovative staging, Aaron Mooney's hauntingly beautiful stage lighting which used giant open structures to create the effect of stained glass panels, and Kasey Allee-Foreman's unadorned but attractive costumes.

Special commendations to the musicians who mastered what may have been one of the most demanding scores they've yet tackled. Adding to the palpable excitement of the festivities was the presence of the composer's daughter Jamie and orchestrator Jonathan Tunick.

Finally, one must extend the highest praise to Canterbury's artistic director Randi Von Ellfeson, who masterfully helmed the gargantuan forces to make this a milestone event not just for his singers, but one of the most satisfying musical achievements in this community's history. I wish there could have been multiple performances!

— Rick Rogers


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