Sunday, November 15, 2009

Robert Honeysucker, Danbury Concert Chorus & Strings, composer Maxim Vladimiroff shine in world premiere of 'Walden'

This time lapse picture shows composer Maxim Vladimiroff adjusting his music, as members of the Danbury Concert Chorus find their places for the second half of last night's concert. It was a world premiere of Vladimiroff's  new work Walden, the Poetry of Nature for baritone soloist, chorus, string orchestra and piano. The work was commissioned by the Danbury Music Center and its music director Richard Price.

A teaching conductor is a wonderful thing and Danbury has one in Price, who understands that people enjoy music more when they know something about it and know what to listen for as the music plays. With a new or unfamiliar work in concert  -- how does this happen?  His solution is simple: play it twice, with a little commentary illustrated by musical examples, wedged in-between.

That was how Walden was presented last night at St. James Episcopal in Danbury, and it's well worth hearing many many times. It may well be a true masterwork of this composer.  It's the kind of composition where the sound is so beautiful - the sonorities alone can tear up the eyes and transport.  The baritone soloist was the extraordinary Robert Honeysucker, the chorus was the Danbury Concert Chorus, the strings sections were from the Danbury Symphony Chamber Players, the pianist was the composer himself.  During the first performance, Honeysucker read the text before each of the six movements of the work - (Spring, The Motions of a Sail, Nymphea Odorata, Autumnal Colors, Leaves and What Beauty!)

While all of the performers got hearty applause after the work was first heard - when the composer was brought up, the whole audience cheered, whistled, and stood up almost as a body.  Vladimiroff, an unassuming and personable soul, who has worked for three different churches in the area over the last decade and taught herds of children besides, has a lot of appreciative fans, including his mother (Tattiana?) and father, (Sergei Vladimiroff, a concert pianist)  his wife Leisa and two sons, Damien and Luca who were all in attendance to cheer him too.

But then it was time to learn a little something about the piece - Richard Price reminded us of his philosophy and brought Vladimiroff up to talk a bit about Walden.   As he mentioned each concept Price lead the chorus in an example from the work.

After a very animated intermission, the house fell silent to hear Walden played as a piece, without any reading of the text between movements. And here the arc of the work could be taken in.  And somehow in this last performance, Honeysucker was carried away with the work and delivered something marvelous and transcendent. The chorus too, having already performed it well  - had lost their nervousness and let go with truly solid gorgeous performance, as did chorus member Patricia Scharr who had a short section of solo notes. Everything was just right.

Three other wonderful choral works graced the program - Choose Something Like a Star by Randall Thompson, Shenandoah arranged by Donald Erb and Swansea Town by Gustav Holst.  It was a great night, and played to a packed house. People were standing in the back, and close parking was hard to come by. Thanks to all who contributed. It was a wonderful show.

Want to commission a Vladimiroff original or arrange piano lessons:
-- Mar Walker