WESTFIELD, NJ — For its season finale, the New Jersey Festival Orchestra will perform Orff’s beloved choral work “Carmina Burana.” The performance, titled “The Wheel of Fortune,” will be held on Saturday, May 30, at 7 p.m. at the Presbyterian Church in Westfield.
“I cannot think of a more recognizable opening five minutes of a classical piece of music — the iconic ‘O Fortuna’ chorus is used in countless action movies, often accompanying cataclysmic events, or the culmination of epic battle scenes,” said David Wroe Music Director. “And this aptly describes the mood of the whole work — a driven, dynamic, explosive large scale work which keeps the audience on the edge of their seats throughout the concert.”
Wrote tried to choose his favorite moment in the performance.
“The opening chorus, of course, is irresistible, but the work has so many contrasting moments which stand alone as beautiful sections that it is hard to pick a favorite moment,” he said.
The program will feature Pro Arte Chorale under the direction of Steven Fox, choruses from the Newark Arts High School under the direction of Jerry Forderhase and Bernardsville High School under the direction of Barbara Retzko. International guest soloists Ashley Kerr, soprano; Kyle Knapp, tenor; and Christian Bowers, baritone also join the NJFO for this performance.
"I am very excited about this collaboration," said Wroe.
German composer Carl Orff's masterwork, "Carmina Burana" is a perennial favorite among concertgoers of all ages. Its melodies are well known through its use in films, television shows and commercials. The work came out of a huge collection of medieval poems written by a variety of students, clerics and vagabond-poets who celebrated with earthy humor the joys of the tavern, nature, love and lust.
Twenty-four of the poems were set to music by Carl Orff in 1936. Using driving rhythms to achieve a sense of “exultant hedonism,” Orff created three sections: “In Springtime” (scenes celebrating the return of spring), “In the Tavern” (paeans to the joys of drinking and gambling), and “The Court of Love” (an uninhibited celebration of love’s pleasures).The work begins and ends with a tribute to the inexorable wheel of fortune: “One man is exalted by its descent, the other abased.”
The concert is ideal for anyone over 6 years old who loves seeing and hearing hundreds of people come together to perform an exciting, celebratory piece of music, Wroe said.
“It includes folk melodies, jazzy rhythms, drinking songs and passionate love songs. In fact it, is known as the 'rock star' of all classical music compositions, and voted on many classical radio stations as the people's all-time favorite piece," he said.
This performance is made possible through the generous support of the NJ State Council on the Arts and the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.
Tickets range in price from $26 to $75, with a special discount price of $13 for students. All ticket holders are invited to attend a free pre-concert lecture by musicologist and composer Michael Rosin at 6:15 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church Chapel.