BU Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus at Carnegie Hall
Vaughan Williams concert will honor inauguration of President Brown
During World War I, the English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams volunteered to serve in the Field Ambulance Service in Flanders, where the carnage he witnessed permanently altered his view of the world. Vaughan Williams’ yearning for peace would emerge 20 years later in his haunting cantata Dona nobis pacem. That work, along with Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 4 in F minor, will be performed by the Boston University Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Chorus in a concert at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday, April 18, at 8 p.m. The concert is presented in honor of Robert A. Brown, who will formally take the helm of the nation’s fourth largest private university at an April 27 ceremony.
Both musical works are masterful undertakings, and their emotional perspectives cover opposite ends of the spectrum: the Fourth Symphony is an intense, roiling response to the upheaval that engulfed Europe in the 1930s, and Dona nobis pacem is a rich expression of hope for a more peaceful world. Beginning with an anguished, thrusting first movement, the symphony grows in tension and agitation, punctuated by a long fitful melody that rides upon pulsating heartbeats, all emphasized by a severe tautness of structure. Dona nobis pacem (Give Us Peace) weaves together symphonic conceptions with text from the Latin Mass, scripture passages, and the poetry of Walt Whitman to express the composer’s central theme. Despite the gloom over Europe, the heart of the cantata consoles in ways that the symphony does not even imagine. Together, the two works create a powerful and compelling program that speaks directly and movingly of issues that are as alive today as they were when Vaughan Williams composed them.
The works will be conducted by Ann Howard Jones, a College of Fine Arts professor of music and director of choral activities in the school of music, and by David Hoose, a CFA professor of music and the school’s director of orchestral activities, who is also music director of the Cantata Singers and Ensemble and Collage New Music. Soloists in Dona nobis pacem will be soprano Michelle Johnson (CFA’06), an Opera Institute student, and bass-baritone Simon Estes, a CFA professor of music. Estes has performed extensively with major international opera companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, and Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as with orchestras such as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Brown was selected as president of BU in May 2005 and assumed the office in September, after 25 years at MIT, the final 7 as provost. Carnegie Hall, the country’s premier venue for classical music, is a fitting site to launch the University’s monthlong inaugural celebration, and the concert is expected to attract many of the nearly 50,000 BU alumni who reside in the tri-state area.
Tickets to the April 18, 2006, Carnegie Hall concert are $35, $25, and $15. They can be purchased online at www.carnegiehall.org or by calling the box office at 212-247-7800.