Composer Amram Leads Festival Chorus
Amram is no stranger to Washington. He received a degree from George Washington University in 1952, and played French horn in the National Symphony. His prolific output includes scores for the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, "JB," the movie, the "Manchurian Candidate," and Arthur Miller's "After the Fall."
Fifteen of the 17 sections of this piece were heard last night. Two organ interludes were omitted. A three note motive, spanning a major ninth, is stated in the opening organ prelude, and this motive is heard as a unifying element throughout.
The score maintains a spaciousness, clarity and sense of vocal line not often encountered in contemporary church music. Amram employs pentatonic passages, chromaticism, melisma and a great deal besides of the wealth of time tested techniques available to a composer today. He uses these competently, and with taste.
The Sacred Service was commissioned by the Park Avenue Synagogue in New York, where it had its premiere in 1962. A capable cantor, Siena has a full voice and dramatic inclinations, assets somewhat mitigated by too much vibrato and scooping. He was at his best in the lyrical Lecho Dodi.
Dr. Berlinski provided sensitively musical and solidly reliable organ accompaniment. This is lyrical and expansive music and the performance last night projected this and conveyed a sense of the power of the texts.