Sunday, March 15, 2009

Carmina Burana- Part 1

Last November, the Montclair State University Chorale (a group comprising of 150+ students) performed Carl Orff's Carmina Burana at the NJPAC with a group of students from the Moscow Conservatory, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Sarah Coburn (soprano soloist), Vale Rideout (tenor soloist), and Stephen Powell (bass soloist).

The show recieved much praise and great reviews, such as this one from the Star Ledger. Anyway, if I had this blog back in November, I would have definitely written about the show. Still, I would like to discuss Carmina Burana over a short series of entries.

The text for Carmina Burana comes from a huge compilation of poems that dates back to between the 11th and 13th centuries. Composer Carl Orff took 24 of these poems, notably ones with secular themes, and set them to fantastic music. Everybody's heard the famous opening movement entitled O Fortuna, whether it be in the Jim Morrison biopic, or in a trailer for a dramatic action movie, or in a Medieval Times commerical, or even when the New England Patriots march out onto the field. Yes, it's overused and overplayed, but that does not discount how dramatic and breathtaking the song is.

The next movement, Fortune Plango Vulnera, is a direct follow-up of O Fortuna, dealing with the same subject (the fickleness of fortune). As a whole, the twenty-five movements of Carmina Burana are grouped into five major sections, the first of which being Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi ("Fortuna, Empress of the World"). So next time, I will discuss the second major section, which deals with the coming of springtime and the feelings of love it brings, as the texts go.

And if I can somehow get my hands on a recording of the MSU Chorale performing the whole thing, I will most definitely put it up there. For now, check this out:

Montclair State University Website Feature

Program Notes

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