Britain’s Daily Telegraph is reporting that the Chinese are beginning to put the kibosh on performances of classical music with Christian themes. A performance of the Mozart Requiem by the Sinfonica Orchestra di Roma intended for the main square of the city of Dujiangyn (where thousands were lost in the recent earthquakes) was replaced by a performance of secular works and what was to be a open performance of Messiah by the Academy of Ancient Music in Beijing was limited to “invited guests” only. But since officials also required a Shanghai performance of Carmina Burana to be scaled back it’s hard to see a consistent religious (or anti-religious) position here. Perhaps the Peoples’ Republic is just nervous about choirs singing loudly in a foreign language.
Loud or soft, singing can be pricey. The Metropolitan Opera has canceled its revival of John Corigliano’s Ghosts of Versailles scheduled for next year (saving the company roughly a million dollars) and the New York City Opera lost its new general manager before he even started collecting his salary; last week he informed the board that because of their reductions of his budget he could no longer realize his artistic vision.
Still the best music in New York appears to be free. I’ve written before about the music at St. Thomas Church on Fifth Avenue. For Armistice Day the choir performed the Faure Requiem. It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful performance, and wonderful to hear it not as a concert piece but as part of the liturgy (even with the occasional cell phone ringing). The service is available on the parish’s website, and shouldn’t be missed.
And finally, last year I wrote a bit about references to Mary in Christmas carols (I didn’t find many). Blog entries sometimes have strange afterlives. On December 5 and 6, Wheaton College’s Mary Hopper will be premiering a new setting of a Marian Carols by G.K. Chesterton, scored for women’s chorus and two harps as part of the college’s popular Christmas Festival Concert . Readers in Chicagoland might enjoy hearing the musical result of a blog note.