The Shir Chadash Chorale, a 28-voice interfaith group founded in Washington seven years ago, celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur yesterday afternoon at the Washington Cathedral, with a program of sacred music whose theological motives emphasized these "Days of Awe" through themes of repentance, prayer and righteousness.
The shofar's call to worship followed by cantorial soloist, bass Donald Boothman with the formal proclamation of God's Kingdom, ushered in a poignant version of Psalm 121 ("I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes") by full chorus. Tenor Guy Manning delivered the sweeping, melismatic lines of "Out of the Deep" in spectacular fashion, while Boothman reinforced the air of profound seriousness behind "Avinu Malkenu," a penitential prayer for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.
Director Herman Berlinski contributed two pieces, an instrumental interlude, "Adagietto for Flute and Organ," and "Unesane Tokef," part of his "The Days of Awe" trilogy, which incorporates the Book of Daniel's apocalyptic predictions. In the former, flutist Sally Rubin wove eerie, syrinx-like melodies against Berlinski's ominous organ chords and reed timbres. "Unesane Tokef" found Berlinski back on the podium, leading his group now augmented by a narrator, two trumpets and flute. God's ultimate judgment came across in muted and fiery tones. Soloist Manning's powerful vocals in his upper register seemed to ascend heavenward, suggesting mankind's supplication before his creator.