A young Jewish counter tenor is to sing in Hebrew in a work by Leonard Bernstein to commemorate the centenary of the composer’s birth. Theo Golden, a 19-year-old music student, will sing what he describes as the “incredibly atmospheric” counter tenor part in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, at Cadogan Hall on 10 March with the Thames Philharmonic Choir. Bernstein wanted the part to be heard as if sung by the young shepherd-psalmist David, and in Hebrew to capture the language’s melodies, rhythm and mood. “The part could have been written for Theo,” said Artistic Director John Bate, “as he speaks Hebrew and his voice is young and fresh.” The Chichester Psalms combine English choral tradition – and what Bernstein described as “old-fashioned sweetness” – spiced with Middle Eastern percussion and tonality, and a distinct injection of contemporary jazz and vitality, recalling the composer’s musical West Side Story.
The concert as a whole is emotionally charged: complementing the theme of remembrance is the achingly beautiful Adagio for Strings by Bernstein’s fellow American and contemporary Samuel Barber, and Mozart’s Requiem, which the composer was writing on his death-bed. The Requiem has become one of the most famous and loved works in the classical choral repertoire. For Orchestra leader Nandor Szederkényi, “Mozart’s last masterpiece is a special mission; it makes my life richer and happier.” The piece has been played on, and evokes occasions of international mourning, such as after the assassination of President Kennedy, Princess Diana’s death and 9/11.
Soloists: Katherine Crompton (soprano), Theo Golden (Counter Tenor), Adam Tunnicliffe (Tenor), Edward Grint (Bass)
Thames Festival Orchestra, Leader Nandor Szederkényi
Conductor John Bate