Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presents Eternal Light
Distinguished Concerts Orchestra; Distinguished Concerts Singers International
Jonathan Griffith, DCINY Artistic Director/Principal Conductor
Cristian Grases, composer/conductor
Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY
June 12, 2016
On June 12, 2016, Distinguished Concerts International New York (DCINY) presented a concert entitled Eternal Light, featuring two works, Lux Aeterna by Morten Laurdisen (b. 1943), and the World Premiere of Cristian Grases’ (b. 1973) Nocturnos y Adivinanzas (Nocturnes and Riddles). Featuring singers from Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Australia, Canada, and “individual singers from around the globe,” it was a richly rewarding experience for those intrepid souls who braved the crowds enjoying the Puerto Rican day parade to make it to Carnegie Hall.
Jonathan Griffith took the podium to conduct Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna. Composed in 1997, Lux Aeterna is a five-movement work, taking the opening and closing of the Requiem Mass and three sections of the Te Deum for the texts. If “heaven” is really as many imagine, I would not be shocked if this music is being heard and played there. This is simply some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard, and at the risk of being accused of intellectual laziness I will respond that its transcendence simply eludes words. I will mention in particular the final Agnus Dei – Lux Aeterna, where voices and instruments converge in a musical apotheosis like no other, as if the gates of heaven were opening and beckoning one to enter. The chorus was well-balanced, with clear diction and projected clearly. Maestro Griffith led with his usual skill, with careful attention to details and subtleties. It was a celestial journey of twenty-seven minutes. As Maestro Griffith lowered his baton, the sound slowly died away to complete silence. After about five seconds of this silence, the audience “returned to earth” and gave the performers a well-deserved standing ovation.
After intermission, Cristian Grases took the podium to conduct the World Premiere of his Nocturnos y Adivinanzas (Nocturnes and Riddles). This six-movement work is set to four riddles and two lullabies, all in different Latin American dances, such as the Puerto Rican Bomba, the Cuban Habanera, Danzón, Cha Cha Cha, and the Brazilian Samba Reggae. Dr. Grases gives a detailed explanation in his excellent program notes, which the reader can access by clicking here – Program Notes (this will also include the texts with translations).
The chorus consisted entirely of young singers (most appeared to be pre-teens and teens), which lent a certain charm and innocence that was completely consistent with the texts and the musical styles. One could not help being won over by these youngsters singing with such enthusiasm, not to mention fine diction and projection.
If Lux Aeterna is the music of Heaven, then Nocturnos y Adivinanzas is the music of Earth. This is not to suggest that it is crude or of less import, but rather to highlight it’s obvious projection of the joy of life and of life in this world. It’s a thirty-five minute trip of some of the most festive and infectiously happy music one could have the pleasure to experience. It’s a virtual tour of the sounds of Latin America, delivered with consummate skill and reverence. Dr. Grases was a charismatic leader as he led the large forces in an engaging performance. Highlights for this listener were the charming La Luna (the Moon), and the ebullient Las Estrellas (The Stars). Nocturnos y Adivinanzas is a winner! The audience agreed and responded with a roaring ovation that lasted for several minutes. Congratulations to all!