Last night my daughter performed with the UNT College of Music Chamber Choir in concert in Winspear Hall at the Murchison Performing Arts Center. Thanks to live streaming provided by the recording services at the UNT College of Music, my husband and I are able to enjoy outstanding audio and adequate video of most of my daughter’s concerts.
After the Intermission, the Chamber Choir moved on to some late 20th century choral compositions that challenged both the performers and the listeners.
One of the more difficult pieces was a 1981 choral composition by Sven-David Sandström entitled Agnus Dei, a 16-part piece which created a sensation when it premiered at the international choir festival in Stockholm. Following that performance, members of the audience rushed the stage and pulled the music from the choir members, not something you normally envision happening at a performance of sacred choral music.
Another strange piece performed immediately following Agnus Dei utilized harmonic overtone singing, a specialty of the composer, Sarah Hopkins. Past Life Melodies (1991), with its 11-part composition and other-worldly harmonic overtones with roots in Mongolia and Tibet, reminded me quite strongly of a sequence from the soundtrack of 2011: A Space Odyssey. You may remember the visually stunning sequence, but the aural atmosphere was equally astonishing.
If only I still owned a turntable, I could ask my mom for the vinyl recording, which I listened to repeatedly in my youth. I wonder if any choirs have attempted a performance of Jupiter and Beyond the Infinite?