Concert of Sacred Music
In Memorial Church last night.
The Harvard University Choir and the Bach Society Orchestra, two of the pockets of high quality performance in Harvard, combined last night for a concert of sacred music in Memorial Church. The quality of the combination was something less than the sum of the quality of the Choir and the BSO, because the two compositions the orchestra played alone hardly matched the two works sung by the choir, Brahms' Fest- und Gedenksprueche, Op. 109 and Mozart's Litaniae de Venerabili Altaris Sacramento, K. 125.
While the choir's basses sounded a bit muddy in the Brahms, one could have no complaints about the Mozart. The Litaniae began with the most cheerful imaginable Kyrie eleison and soloists Melanic Adams and Judith Press, who, it is good to note, have moved up successfully from Gilbert and Sullivan to God. The truly fine singing of the evening was done by Florence Staplin, soprano; her certainty of intonation, breath control, phrasing, and tone quality should serve as a model for her fellow soloists.
The BSO gave the first performance of Sinfonia Sacra for Violin and Two Chamber Groups, written by John Harbison, Junior Fellow in Music, for his wife, concert-mistress and soloist last night. The BSO opened the program with William Boyce's Symphony No. 5 in D.