William Ferris Chorale | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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William Ferris Chorale


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It has been said that to qualify as the subject of a William Ferris Chorale tribute a composer must be: (1) British or American, (2) marking a major anniversary, (3) a possessor of impressive credentials and prestigious awards, (4) recognized for his vocal and liturgical music, and (5) the cultivator of an accessible, preferably tonal, idiom. Dominick Argento is all of the above: (1) born in Pennsylvania of Italian immigrant parents, it's the (2) 60th birthday of this (3) Peabody graduate, student of Henry Cowell and Howard Hanson, winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize; (4) composer of 11 operas who once proclaimed that "the voice is our representation of humanity;" and (5) neoromantic adept at discreetly incorporating serialism into an essentially lyrical vocabulary. A longtime professor at the University of Minnesota and an influential figure in the musical establishment, Argento has nonetheless retained a piquant sense of individuality, humor, and poetry. I can't think of a more fitting introduction to Argento's music than this Ferris retrospective, which includes the local premieres of: I Hate and I Love (for chorus and percussion orchestra), based on lusty verses of Catullus, and A Nation of Cowslip, a group of bagatelles for unaccompanied chorus composed on doggerel by John Keats. Among the soloists are organist Thomas Weisflog and tenor John Vorrasi. Mr. Argento will be in attendance. Tonight, 8 PM, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 690 W. Belmont; 922-2070.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lisa Ebright.

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