Yesterday afternoon in Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church, Ned Rorem took part in a program entirely of his own music. It was the second time in 11 days that the Pulitzer Prize winner had enjoyed that experience in the Washington area, which may be some kind of record among living American composers. The previous Rorem concert was in the Terrace Theater of the Kennedy Center.
An expert pianist, Rorem played for baritone David Young in the War Scenes written in 1969 for Gerard Souzay. These are powerful songs written under the impact of the Vietnam war. To prose by Walt Whitman, Young sang with great sympathy and admirable enunciation.
For soprano Phyllis Bryn-Julson, Rorem played his Nantucket Songs, as on the evening the same artists gave the world premiere in the Library of Congress. The songs were written for, and are dedicated to, the marvelous soprano who sings them with unbelievable beauty. A half dozen or more rank among the finest songs of this century.
Yesterday's concert opened with organist Donald Sutherland playing five episodes from A Quaker Reader. These combine stunning technical acquaintance with the resources of the pipe organ and ideas of striking invention in using music to speak of silence and an inner spirit.