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By the time the Adams House Chorus had thundered the final chorus of "Rule Britannia" Friday night, it had proved two things: first, that Adams House has more than a swimming pool and good food, and second, that little-known music can find as receptive an audience as the more hackneyed stuff.
"English Music of the Late 18th Century" includes the works of William Boyce, Thomas Arne, John Stanley, and Thomas Curtis. These pieces are, for the most part, light and charming, and they escape the grumpy profundity of some of the more often heard 19th century music. William Perry's enthusiastic conducting produced some delightful results.
Porhaps the most successful (and most unique) part of the program was a series of glees, canons, and catches. These are unaccompanied choral pieces vaguely related to rounds, and they are sometimes intricately constructed. The "Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club of Adams House" picked its way gingerly through four glees, a canon, and a catch, accompanying its singing with stage actions such as shrugged shoulders and waving forefingers. This organization claims descent from the original Noblemen and Gentlemen's Catch Club (1761) which punished sour notes by making the offender drink a glass of wine. "It is this spirit," the present group's leaders note, "which the 'Adams House Catch Club' has attempted to recapture."
Aphorisms in the songs further demonstrate this spirit; Thomas Curtis' True Britton did "haste to the bottle and joyously sing," Joseph Baildon philosophized" Tis better to lie drunk than dead," and Thomas Arne's dilemma was "Which is the Properest Day to Drink!"
The success of the Adams House program should give a boost to other House musical societies planning similar programs. This week Eliot presents some Bach as originally scored, substituting recorders for modern flutes.
The enthusiasm of the audience on Friday night both justifies and gives promise to the ambitious plans which Adams House now has for its musical future.
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