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During its extended concert tour last week the Glee Club sang a great deal of noteworthy music. But undoubtedly the high point of the trip, from a musical standpoint at least, was the joint program with Vassar. This opened with Bach's Magnificat, following which the Glee Club sang palestrina's Supplicationes and Psaume 121 sang Milhaud. Next came Vassar's rendition of Andre Caplet's Gloria in Excelsis Deo, and the two choruses joined again in O Vos Omnes by Vaughn Williams. For the climax of the concert E. Harold Gear conducted Zoltan Kodaly's beautiful Te Deum, written for mixed chorus and four soloists.
Particularly worthy of attention as an excellent example of dramatic a capella composition is Milhand's Psaume. This begins with a low bass note that is almost like a growl in its quiet intensity. There follows a rapid swell as the baritones rush upward, and the tenors break in with a quick, nervous melody. Soon all the parts join in to carry on the thread of the words until the voices suddenly blend in a soft chord on the word "Jerusalem."
There follows a terrific fortissimo "Jersualem" in all voices, which is followed by a gradual diminuendo as the tenors continue their nervous melody, the baritones subside down the scale, and the basses chant repeatedly an ever-quieter "Jerusalem." This structure is typical of the whole piece-rapid crescendos, gradual diminuendos, sudden shouts, and nervous bits of melody.
Toward the end the piece settles into a quiet and completely anomalous mass of discordant voices which gradually work up the scale and resolve into peaceful harmonious chords on the final words of the psalm, "bonheur en toi."
Zoltan Kodal's Te Deum reaches heights of beauty rarely heard in any music old or new. Although Kodaly wrote this work for a national Hungarian festival, there seem to be no definite Hungarian traits in the music. His style is, rather cosmopolitan. To speak of the weaknesses first, this modern composer is not a master of the fugue. His individual lines are strong and clean, but he is sloppy in combining them.
Be that as it may, no one who has ever heard the Te Deum will be able to forget the composers unbelievably beautiful combinations of also and choral parts, nor the gradual build-up of the organ accompaniment, first behind the solo voices, then by itself in ever-swelling magnificance, to the tremendous choral outburst on "Non horuisti virginis uterum." An the last line, "Non confundar in acternum," for the womens' voices alone, is as near to celestial music as we have ever heard.
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