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Dartington Community Choir: Carl Orff's Carmina Burana

Sunday May 6, 2018 at 19:30
Dartington Great Hall, Totnes
£18; students and under 16s £7.50
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  1. Carmina Burana, arranged for 2 pianos and percussion by the composer - Carl Orff
  2. Geographical Fugue - Ernst Toch

Dartington Community Choir's performance of Mendelssohn’s Elijah in December 2017 met with critical acclaim and the choir will seek to build further on this success in its next concert on 6th May 2018. Carl Orff’s oratorio Carmina Burana is one of the best-known pieces of 20th century music. First performed in 1937 in Frankfurt and approved by the Nazis as an alternative to what they saw as decadent avant-garde music, it has survived this taint to be much loved by audiences of all kinds, including heavy metal groups, rappers and advertising directors. With Handel’s Messiah it is one of the most widely performed oratorios ever written.

Carmina Burana was the name given to a collection of mediaeval poems discovered by a 19th century scholar in a Benedictine monastery in Bavaria. Mostly in Latin, with some in mediaeval German and Old Provencal, the verses deal with all kinds of human emotion, from the elevated to the remarkably bawdy. Entranced, Orff turned 24 of the poems into a huge emotional response in music and drama to the extreme ups and down of life - the Wheel of Fortune. After the famous introduction about Fortuna, or Fortune, Empress of the World, there are three subject sections entitled Spring, In the Tavern, and Love. Exuberant, loud, spiritual, intense, hypnotic, joyful, crude, furious, raucous and unforgettable, the work creates an almost physical roller coaster of emotion. Deliberately emphasising the folk power of rhythm and percussion, Orff also created extremely difficult parts for the soloists, taking them to the extremes of their ranges. Echoes of Stravinsky and of Gregorian plainchant are intertwined dramatically with hints of the late Renaissance and early Baroque and with strong, simple melodies. As celebrated conductor Marin Alsop has said, the work is “a real blast….”.

Dartington Great Hall
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