Messiahs False and True
In May 2018, we are excited to present Messiahs False and True, three works which address the theme of charismatic leaders, religious and political, throughout history.
We'll open the concert with a short choral proclamation by Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt (b. 1915-2014), titled "Cry Out and Shout," a powerful acapella anthem that bursts with excitement. The joyful text from the Prophet Isaiah calls people to sing out to God and assures redemption: "The Lord is strength and song...with joy shall ye draw water from the wells of salvation."
The center piece of our program is “Messiahs False and True”, a choral cantata by Rex Isenberg which premiered in NYC in 2015. This is a dramatic piece, a marriage of theater and chorus, featuring narrated texts from figures as diverse as Julius Caesar, Barack Obama, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Jim Jones – figures both heroic and villainous that by force of “the incredible blind faith of their followers…transformed these individuals from relative unknowns to figures of messianic proportions.”*
The program will conclude with "Rejoice in the Lamb", a cantata for 4 soloists, choir and organ, composed by Benjamin Britten in 1943. Britten chose a poem by 18th century poet Christopher Smart whose "Jubliate Agno" was written while in a mental asylum where he was judged to be in the grips of a religious mania. The poem has great color, drama and imagery, depicting idiosyncratic praise and worship by all of God's creation. Britten captures the warmth of Smart's peculiar vision with dancing rhythms, and tender harmonies.
The concert will be presented at the landmark Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn Heights, a historically significant setting where Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and other charismatic leaders were invited to deliver speeches over the course of the last 160 years!