by Dr. Jeffry A. Jahn
The observance of “landmark” events is an enduring hallmark of society. Significant occasions, whether private or public, are celebrated in a variety of ways that generally define the moment: raucous festivities, solemn ceremonies, or simple memorials.
Moments in Time is a concert that highlights both the occasion of musical performance and purposeful celebration. Three of the concert’s featured composers, Verdi, Wagner, and Britten, have centennial birthdays in 2013: Verdi and Wagner – 200 years, and Britten – 100 years, while a fourth composer, Edvard Grieg, falls between at 170. These “Birthday Boys” have varying significant and historical characteristics attributed to them. Verdi (Italian) and Wagner (German) are arguably the greatest musical representatives of their respective European cultures. Britten is credited with awakening English choral music and opera from its long sleep (The last great proponent was Henry Purcell, who died in 1695.). Britten, like his predecessor Purcell, is credited with a uniquely and distinctly “English” style of composition that is unaffected or influenced by other European styles. Grieg is remembered as the foremost Norwegian composer who defined and enhanced music’s ‘nationalistic’ movement.
It is hardly a coincidence that the last pieces written by this concert’s featured composers – Verdi, Wagner, Britten and Grieg – were vocal works, although all of them were equally well-versed in writing instrumental music. What makes vocal music unique is the added component of text. When true musical masters combine these elements, the result is something celebratory and memorable.”
One of my hopes for this concert, Moments in Time, is to demonstrate both the momentary, fleeting experience of performance (for musician and audience alike) and the timelessness of choral compositions that have endured, in some instances, for more than 400 years. By enlisting the musical genius of Joe, Dick, Ben and Ed, ARS invites you to celebrate these Moments in Time.