Arlington — The Verdigris Ensemble, one of the most innovative chamber choirs I’ve heard, repeated its outstanding concert, The Consolation of Apollo, on April 14. I originally reviewed this concert on March 4 but had to return for a couple of reasons. One is that, due to my moments-late entrance, I was only able to hear that concert rather than observe it. This is all explained in my review, which is here. I will not re-review the concert, but let me just say that all of my initial impressions were underscored and I was even more impressed. There is a recent interview with artistic director, Kevin Brukhman, written by Keith Mankin. You can find that here.
The other reason I returned to hear this concert is that they performed it at the Planetarium at the University of Texas at Arlington. This was a source of curiosity because the big piece on the program is based on the 1968 Christmas Eve broadcast by the crew of Apollo 8. This most satisfying work by Kile Smith (b. 1965) also included texts from a much older work, The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius (484-524). Performing a piece about the Apollo mission in the planetarium proved to be an inspired idea.
In a spectacular display, the staff at the planetarium took us on a tour of our local neighborhood, our solar system. We saw close-ups of each planet and even our sun. We even landed on the moon. The visuals went perfectly with the music, even though the Apollo 8 mission didn’t visit these planets. Having only seen these NASA images in print, seeing them in a 20-foot high close-up revealed stunning details.
This concert, each time it was presented, announced Verdigris as a major artistic force, not afraid to experiment while still pleasing the audience; not an easy programming task. We look forward to future concerts.