With a great and optimistic shout of joy, the D.C. Youth Orchestra, D.C. Youth Chorale and their assorted alumni and family friends gathered on the stage of Lisner Auditorium last night to greet the new year with a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. 1979's career may have been a rough one, but it was sent out in style with this celebration, the first of what is to be an annual event.
And celebration it was. When the chorus let go with its opening blast, there was no doubt that, if they had their way, all men would become brothers, as Schiller so devoutly hoped. And later on, their heavenly pianissimo conveyed the line "this kiss is for all the world" with splendid magic.
This is a fine and powerful choral ensemble that has been expertly trained by Edward Jackson, who was also the tenor soloist in this performance.
The other soloists were soprono: Elizabeth Lyra Ross; Mezzo-soprano: Renta Babak; and baritone: Nikita Rosanoff.
Beethoven entertained rather romantic ideas about the brotherhood of man, but couched them in the most powerful language known to man. Under Lyn McLains's watchful direction, the orchestra made good musical sense of this language, its strong string section negotiating the treacherous counterpoint with assurance and good focus.
The orchestra's regular and talented personnel were augmented for this occasion by some of its many alumni who were home for the holidays from colleges and conservatories around the country, and the chorus was augmented by family friends and neighbors. The resulting crowd of 250 that jammed the stage had a marvelous heterogeneity of age, experience and background that lent the occasion and the music a dimension of conviction and credibility.