Music Of Beauty and Inspiration

By Henry C. Mayer

The team effort which has. been associated with the University of Notre Dame was expressed in a way other than football in our city on January 14. The University's Chorale concluded its Winter Tour by presenting music of beauty and inspiration in a concert at St. Margaret Mary Church.

The Chorale's talented and affable director, Alexander Blachly, put together a program that was a treat for the ear and a delight for the heart. Blachly is a fantastic conductor, quietly singing along with his musicians, who uses his eyes and hands with great effectiveness. He is the founder-director of the world-acclaimed vocal ensemble Pomerium, based in New York.

Talking with him afterwards, Louisville Music News found him articulate and enthusiastic: "I really enjoy working with such talented and hardworking young people. I want to take them to Europe and produce some LP recordings." Two Kentuckians, Peter Gedney of Louisville and Tara Grieshop of Harlan, are among the Chorale members, while Blachly's wife, Mary Ann, is a former Louisvillian.

Blachly supplemented his carefully written program notes with interesting and at times humorous introductions. For instance, he noted that "Handel wrote the Messiah inthree weeks, which is remarkable for a work that takes 2 1/2 hours to perform. It is the best-loved piece of music in our language. It has three sections: prophecy, sacrifice and thanksgiving. The more I perform it, the more I believe he was inspired to do it."

The Chorale selections were mainly in English but they included works in German by Brahms and in Latin by the recently deceased French master Olivier Messiaen. Those of us in the audience with ties to Notre Dame were greatly moved by the Brahms numbers, which were dedicated to Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ and the person for whom our school takes its name. Based on a text written by Thomas Aquinas more than 700 years ago, the Messiaen opus was fresh and vital as well as beautiful. With all that has been written in religious music, the French master has penned some remarkable creations and this observer, for example, does not weary of hearing his music.

The pieces by the four English composers, Byrd, Tallis, Lawes and Purcell, were eye-openers. They not only were inspiring but they can give one a lesson in the potential of our language musical expression.