Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Production

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Production

Article excerpt

is ambitious and impactful

Never in its 34-year history has Gloria Musicae mounted as ambitious a production as "Voices of the Holocaust," presented at the conclusion of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The multi-organization collaboration -- which included singers from the Booker High School Choir, Sarasota Choral Society, Sarasota Jewish Chorale and Sarasota Young Voices; musicians from the Chroma Quartet and the Sarasota Orchestra; and dancers from the Sarasota- Manatee Dance Alliance -- brought together more than 150 artists for a rendering of composer Sheridan Seyfried's five-part cantata of the same name, based on 22 songs sung in the ghettos and concentration camps during World War II.

Producing something on such a grand scale is fraught with challenges and this 90-minute performance, conducted by Gloria Musicae's artistic director Joseph Holt, did not escape a few minor flaws. But they were largely overshadowed by the magnitude of assembled talent, the beauty of the score and the emotional impact of the subject matter.

Veteran broadcast journalist Charlayne Hunter-Gault delivered timely opening remarks, referencing recent racial slurs allegedly made by L.A. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling that demonstrate discrimination is hardly a thing of the past.

Then the curtain opened to the impressive ensemble and dancers clad in simple everyday wear in muted shades of brown, red and purple. As the sonorous opening, "The World is Burning," began, a video screen dropped down to display photos of burning buildings, war's devastation and oppressed peoples from multiple cultures.

Despite the heaviness of the topic, the score was not relentlessly funereal, ranging from playful folk-flavored melodies to the defiant, triumphal finale, "Never Say This is the Final Road for You." There was nary a glitch in the purity and pitch of the choral ensemble, nor the orchestral accompaniment and the exceptional soloists -- Stella Zambalis, soprano; Carol Sparrow, mezzo-soprano; Jason Collins, tenor; and Jason Stearns, baritone -- deserve special kudos. …

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