City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2016: São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Usher Hall, Review

By Barnaby Miln - Posted on 23 August 2016

Marin Alsop -photo Grant Leighton.jpg
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The Usher Hall
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra, Edinburgh Festival Chorus

Running time: 
Bernstein, Chichester Psalms; Villa-Lobos, Chôros No 10 ‘Rasga o coraçâo’; Shostakovich Symphony No 5
Marin Alsop (conductor), Taylor Torkington (treble), Christopher Bell (chorus master)

It was while the highly respected Walter Hussey was Dean of Chichester Cathedral that he and John Birch, the cathedral’s organist, commissioned Leonard Bernstein to write the Chichester Psalms. Marin Alsop, a former pupil of Bernstein, conducted her São Paulo Symphony Orchestra whilst Christopher Bell’s Edinburgh Festival Chorus sung from Psalms 2, 23, 100, 108, 131 and 133 in Hebrew. Thirteen year old treble from Edinburgh, Taylor Torkington, was the star performer in the second of the three movements. He was singing the Psalm of David, to be interspersed with the chorus’s disruptive Psalm 2.

Marin Alsop, at one time the Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, has been principal conductor of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra since 2012. It was fitting, on the final day of the Olympic Games in Rio, to hear Brazilian music, and from its best known composer Hector Villa-Lobos. His fourteen Chôros pieces have their origin in 19th century Rio de Janeiro. Augmented with Brazilian instruments we heard Chôros No 10. Its first movement may well derive from the Inca and was inspired by the many birds of Brazil's rain forests. The Chorus came to life for the second movement and it was fun to see some, but by no means all, of the chorus swaying with the music.

With already enough to go home excited, the concert concluded with Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, and at its end massive drum beats.

Performance: Monday 22nd August 2016 at 19:30