With Arcadian Chorale and Richmond Choral Society

RED BANK, NJ- The Monmouth Symphony Orchestra celebrated the first concert of its 62nd anniversary season October 25, 2010 at the Count Basie Theatre with the Arcadian Chorale and the Richmond Choral Society led by Music Director Marina Alexander. The music performed was as vocal as it was orchestral, a delightful musical experience.

The program opened with Festival Cantata by Franz Liszt, composed for the Inauguration of the Beethoven Monument at Bonn Germany to honor Beethoven’s birthplace where he had become revered.  Liszt’s  Cantata, his first work, was for full orchestra and chorus, a unique configuration dedicated to Queen Victoria.

The Contata consists of four movements:  maestoso (majestic), allegro deciso (lively),  andante mesto (moderate tempo), and  andante religioso (reverent) played by the Orchestra conducted by Marina Alexander, and sung by the Chorals  and soloists  tenor Matthew Garrett,  bass Mark Watson,  soprano Laura Itzkowitz  and mezzo soprano Amy Frederick.

After the intermission the Orchestra played Beethoven’s  Symphony No. 9 in D minor,  Op. 125  “Choral.” With its  recurring melody, this symphony is easy to sing and therefore is very familiar, instantly recognizable. The young boy in front of me was singing it.

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The Symphony has four movements: allegro ma non troppo un poco  maestoso, molto vivace,  adagio molto e cantabile,  and Presto, each with its own tempo, melody and feeling.   Mezzo Soprano Sandra Schwartzhaupt was soloist.

Roy Gussman conducted.

About the Guest Artists

Marina Alexander, Musical and Artistic Director, Founder of the Arcadian Chorale in 1993 known for musical innovation and excellence.  In

1995 Ms. Alexander was named Musical Director of the Richmond Choral Society in New York City.  In 2004 she was named Music Director of the Metropolitan Green Chorale in Manhattan.  A scholar and translator, she has  produced many new editions of choral music including the world premiere of a new English singing version of a lost “Ode to Joy” by Tchaikovsky.

Ms. Alexander is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Choral Music at the College of Staten Island‹CUNY where she teaches Conducting and Music History.

She has been an adjudicator for the New Jersey Teen Opera Festival, the Monmouth County Arts Council’s Teen Arts Festival, and the Sights & Sounds Arts Festival of the Greek Orthodox Churches of NJ.  Ms. Alexandra has been nominated by Fleet Bank for its Small Business Leadership Awards and honored by the Business & Professional Women of Staten Island as a “Woman of Achievement.”

Soprano Laura Itzkowitz has performed in The Marriage of Figaro, The Telephone, and several seasons with Chicago Opera Theater.  She has also sung with the New Classic Singers, a 32-voice professional chorale. Her music theatre training includes her role as Gypsy Rose Lee in Gypsy, Della in The Gifts of the Magi, and Christine in Phantom.  She is a frequent soloist with the Arcadian Chorale.  In 2004 she sang Soprano Solo in Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra.

Soprano Julia Rolwing has been described in the press  as “a very dramatic presence,”  “a singer with a “splendid voice,” “a soaring soprano,” “a thrilling performer,” “her sound beautifully lyrical with considerable thrust.”  Indeed as she stood on the stage her rich voice carried easily. She has played the title roles in Aida, Tosca,  Cendrillon (Cinderella), Dido and Aeneas and as Mozart’s leading ladies, Donna Anna in Don Giovanni and Countess Almaviva in Le Nozze de Figaro.

Mezzo Soprano Amy Fredericks earned her BA in 1995 and was music director for Phoenix Productions of Fiddler on the Roof (2007), Center Drama productions of The Secret Garden (2007) Oliver (2008) and Funny Girl (2009).

Since 2004 she’s been a vocal director for Freehold Township High School on Cabaret, Pirates of Penzance, Sweet Charity; Shore Regional HS productions of Gypsy and Over Here.  Since 2001 she’s been on the faculty of Count Basie Theatre’s  “Cool School” performing arts program.   She’s participated in the Monmouth County Library’s music series and appeared in the “Honoring Women Composers” series.  She’s a member of Shore Music Educators and NJ National Music Teachers Association.

Mezzo Soprano Sandra Schwarzhaupt began singing professionally at ten years old at Carnegie Hall in New York, Victoria Hall in Geneva, Switzerland and Boettcher Hall in Denver Colorado.  In 1991 Sandra won the prestigious “Youth Advancement Award” in Dresden for outstanding young artists and while in Dresden the same year she performed in the Semper Opera as part of a Gala concert.  She made her debut in 1999 at the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Rome in the role of Adele in Die Fledermaus, in Torin,  Woglinde in Die Gotterdammerung, and in Nice was the soprano solo in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.  In 2001 she performed Mahler’s 4th Symphony at the Musikverein in Vienna.

Tenor Matthew Garrett is a 2005 graduate of the Juilliard Opera Center in New York.  In 2009-10 his strong tenor voice has been Ferrando in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte with the Jacksonville Symphony. As tenor soloist he’s appeared in Orff’s Carmina Burana with the Tulsa Opera and Ballet and at Avery Fisher Hall in New York with the National Choral.  Other performances include Mendelssohn’s Paulus at Carnegie Hall with the Oratoria Society of New York, Mozart’s Mass in C minor at Carnegie Hall with Music Sacra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Handel’s Messiah with the Syracuse Symphony, the premiere of John Tavener’s Requiem at St. Ignatius Loyola,  Bach’s St.

Matthew Passion with the Berkshire Choral Festival, Carmina Burana  with the Northeastern Pennsylvania Philharmonic and Riverside Choral Society, Bach’s St. John Passion with the  Pioneer Valley Symphony,  The Grand Tour Orchestra and the Richmond Choral Society.

Mark Watson’s Bass voice has taken him to Japan, Israel, Italy,  Belgium and across the United States.  He has sung with the Baltimore Opera Company, Michigan Opera Theatre, Opera Orchestra of New York and many regional companies. He was the bass soloist in Mozart’s Coronation Mass at Carnegie Hall last June.  He loves oratoria.  He teaches meditation and is a board-certified music therapist.  He founded Hearts Across the Ocean (Kids Saving Kids), a not-for-profit corporation which underwrites life-saving heart surgeries for poor children in India.

A New York Times review reported, “The most consistently enjoyable performance came from Mark Watson who sang with a voice of intriguing, vibrant texture and easy presenceŠdramatically and musically the most satisfying of the evening.”

The  concert ended with the 150 choral voices, soprano Julia Rolwing, mezzo soprano Sandra Schwarzhaupt, tenor Matthew Garrett, bass Mark Watso,  Roy Gussman, and the Monmouth Symphony Orchestra. Together  they created  music that was exciting and thrilling–truly an “Ode to Joy. “

Joy was on the faces of the audience as they gave the musicians a standing ovation.

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...