It was on May 13, 1942, that the Cathedral Choral Society, newly organized under Paul Callaway, sang the Verdi Requiem in its first concert. Yesterday the society celebrated its 35th anniversary with the same music.
In the years since, the cathedral itself has changed, greatly, bringing with each major enlargement differences in the way music sounds there. Yesterday the Requiem had the advantage of the completed building, which lent a useful reverberation to much of this music without robbing it of clarity. The solo voices, too, took on the added ring bested by Gothic arches.
That details were obscured is inevitable, but the shape, and more importantly the spirit as well as the notes of the tremendous score were constantly evident.
Beyond total musicianship, Callaway adds ingredients that are needed for a great reading of this work knowledge of the style and true devotion to its essence. It was filled with excitement, serenity great drama and vital power.
Esther Hinds, Lili Chookasian, Gene Tucker and Gary Kendall were the soloists, fine in ensembles that were marked with unusually subtle shadings. Chookasian is a marvel for the perfect poise and beauty of her art, from which her younger colleagues can learn rearms.