New York Concert Review critic Jeffrey Williams reviews the True Concord Voices and Orchestra performance at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall where they performed Stephen Paulus’ Prayers and Remembrances as part of their New York debut!
“Prayers and Remembrances is a seven-movement work, each movement using carefully selected poems, both secular and non-secular, that all touched on the concept of grief, but also recovery and spirituality in living. … The music is tonal, with harmonic language that is familiar sounding, yet somehow distinct without resorting to cheap effects. The melodies are often poignant and moving, but never lapsing into mawkish sentimentality. The addition of the extra percussion added a layer of dramatic tension that deepened the already compelling musical effect. Mr. Holton led with total commitment, his gestures seemingly coaxing the utmost from his ensemble in a performance that held this listener’s complete attention for the work’s entire thirty-five plus minutes. I would love to talk extensively about all seven movements, but I will just mention the fifth movement, In Beauty It Walks, with text from Traditional Navaho Prayer, as my favorite. The simple but moving text is set with consummate skill, and the orchestral writing has a radiance that shines upon the vocal with powerful effect. … The very quiet ending was something the audience was not expecting, but once the last sounds faded away, they reacted with an increasing amount of applause, as if each second made them realize what a unique work they had just heard. … Congratulations to the True Concord Voices and Orchestra for living up to the ideals of their name and for the wonderful performance.” —Jeffrey Williams, New York Concert Review