London Symphony Chorus & Orchestra/ Whitacre, Barbican Hall

4.00

Eric Whitacre made us wait for the choral moment that has so quickly become a global phenomenon.

Lux Aurumque (Light of Gold) went viral on YouTube launching Whitacre’s “virtual choir” from cyberspace in a haze of far-reaching, mystical, harmonies. Whitacre writes choral music that is as old as time and yet as immediate as the here and now. It is grateful to sing, scrumptious to listen to, and rejoices in those ecstatic harmonic suspensions that turn dissonance into consonance and make something highly seductive of the thoroughly chaste. Most of all, he is a natural melodist with a touch of Broadway in every hook.



A timely commission from the LSO Chorus turned this event into something of a well-earned showcase for the choir. It was a whistle stop voyage around Eric Whitacre – charmingly acting as our personal guide - but more than that it was a flavoursome taste of the America that gave his music breath. Melodically and harmonically speaking you knew you were in the land of the free from the moment Aaron Copland’s Old American Songs began invoking homespun ditties from “Long time ago”. The singing was a bit proper – more old country, or better yet home counties, than new world. But the spirit moved “At the River” while the muted trumpet-led salvation band played on.



Whitacre made no secret of his influences, either, introducing the lusty and lustful Mid-Winter Songs of his mentor Morten Lauridsen and Samuel Barber’s little masterpiece Knoxville: Summer of 1915 to hint at where his own way with words found inspiration. His wife Hila Plitmann sang the latter with honesty and real understanding of what it means to feel secure in the loving embrace of family.



And family – namely his father – was behind his choice of poems for the evening’s world premiere, Songs of Immortality. Two poems, actually, in effortless elision: Dylan Thomas’ “Lie still, sleep becalmed” which clung to tenuous harmonies, not waving but drowning until asserting fabulous defiance with the words “Open a pathway through the slow sad sail”. Emily Dickinson then chronicled the “letting go” on a final tone that was in every sense eternal.



“Sleep” (words: Charles Anthony Silvestri) is already Whitacre’s most successful musical export and is all set to become his next and biggest adventure with the “virtual choir”. Surrender to the dreams of “a thousand pictures” comes on a refulgent swell of sound – the most consonant dissonance imaginable. Music can do that. Whitacre’s music loves to do that.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum