SIR MICHAEL TIPPETT IN CARNEGIE HALL
He breezed into the Aspen rehearsal studio in his shorts, rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed
as if he had just jogged across the Continental Divide,
which he probably had.
This was Sir Michael Tippett,
since the demise of Benjamin Britten
recognized as the
Dean of British composers. I encountered Tippett some time ago at the Aspen Music
Festival when I was conducting a string orchestra of young musicians and rehearsing
Concerto for Double String Orchestra. I persuaded him to join us and share his insights.
It was a joyous occasion, described in http://www.wimmercello.com/tippett.html
Fast forward to February 2012. I was sitting with my wife in our favorite seats in
Carnegie Hall balcony, waiting with great anticipation for a performance of "A
Our Time," his
now rarely heard oratorio.
This was a very emotional experience for me personally,
not only because this
deeply felt work reaches deep into one's emotional core, but also because, as a
very young child in Vienna, I was old enough to experience the impact of the monstrous
the turning point in the Nazis' quest
for the Final Solution.
Others have written eloquently about the historical
aspects of Kristallnacht
of Broken Glass), how the regime used the tragedy of the assassination of a German
consular official in Paris by a hapless, momentarily deranged Polish Jewish boy to
and loot thousands of synagogues and businesses throughout Germany and Austria.
What sets Tippett's contribution apart is that, as a lifelong pacifist,
he is able to forgive
(not forget), forgive the misguided young perpetrator but also forgive the inhuman
brutes. He is able to turn this masterpiece into a condemnation of oppression linking
Black and Jewish experience) and, in the end, with great optimism, point the way
"A Child of Our Time" could be considered Tippett's crowning achievement,
for the emotional impact of its message but aso because of the consummate skill with
which he uses chorus, orchestra and soloists to present that message. The opening
chords and murmuring strings send chills up your spine and tears to your eyes, presaging
what is yet to come: a wondrous tapestry of earth shaking events set brilliantly
I have also never heard American spirituals
orchestrated and presented with greater
beauty and impact than in this major 20th Century work, indeed "A WORK of Our
The Collegiate Chorale, the soloists and the American Symphony conducted by James
Bagwell all performed with the greatest dedication and involvement.
I feel honored to have met this fine man, Michael
Tippett, if only briefly, in the Aspen
mountains many years ago.
POSTED: FEBRUARY 6, 2012
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