A Chorus Among Us

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From music critic Lindsay Koob:

Eclipsed only by Monday’s big choral extravaganza at the Gaillard, Piccolo Spoleto’s biggest choral event was Tuesday’s go at Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church. It’s probably the single finest sacred work of the early Baroque. Robert Taylor led his Charleston Symphony Chamber Chorus and selected members of their parent orchestra – along with a crack team of six local soloists.

This music rings with pomp and glory. After all, it was probably written with the many galleries and lofts of Venice’s St. Mark’s Cathedral in mind, and Venetian church music was all about grand and glorious spectacle back then. Its complexity and other demands mean we don’t get to hear it much; in fact, Taylor is only the second local choirmaster to attempt it.

And his artists did nearly full justice to this sprawling masterpiece. I won’t inflict a laundry list of names upon you – but all of the soloists were more than up to the task, and several of them were superb. There were a few moments of polyphonic fuzziness in some of the big eight-part sections, and there was an awkward transition or two between passages, but they more than held their own otherwise. I’ve only heard better in recordings. The instrumentalists – including a healthy brass section – sounded great, and (even with their modern instruments) they showed real period flair.

- LK

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