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Another 5 star review from the Netherlands

Posted: 2013-07-10 13:30:00


***** (five stars)

Koorbiënnale: Sara-Jane Brandon, Yvonne Naeff, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Choral Biennale Festival Choir conducted by Benjamin Zander. Haarlem Bavo and Waalsekerk (22/6). Concerten BPYO in Almere (24/6); Rotterdam (25/6) and Amsterdam (27/6).

The clamour of the Holland Festival makes it easy to overlook the opening of another festival last weekend: the Choral Biennale in Haarlem, smaller in scale, but as their opening programme proved, no less innovative. Under the theme “light”, and in a single evening, we listened to the light of northern Siberia – yes, that is possible – and heard how the long awaited Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra fared during its very first Netherlands tour.

That happened in the Bavo Church, an acoustically impossible - but nonetheless ideal - location in which to experience, to the core, the atmosphere of Mahler’s Second Symphony, Auferstehung, (Resurrection). The youngest member of the orchestra is 12, the oldest 21.

The conductor and music “guru” who has –in little over a year - created this orchestra from scratch is Benjamin Zander. In Haarlem he held the musicians and public captive in a web of pliant tempi and long, effective silences. In the reverberating Bavo he achieved the impossible, keeping the work rhythmically tight and driven.

The choral element in the symphony is short, but significant. The piece takes us from the gruesome depths to salvation: the Auferstehung. In the last movement the Choral Biennale Choir showed how light can stream from the caverns of the soul. Together with the restrained and controlled voices of Sarah-Jane Brandon and Yvonne Naef, the choir took us from the temporal to the divine – a more beautiful atmosphere than that of the Bavo is unimaginable.

Bïella Luttmer
Monday 24th June 2013

Translated by Neil Wallace


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