The Washington Post

Concert review: Washington Master Chorale, featuring ‘The Earth and I’

There’s no doubt that the Washington Master Chorale, founded two years ago by conductor Thomas Colohan, has added yet another fine group to Washington’s long-acclaimed choral scene. The chorus’s more than 60 voices sing as one coherent ensemble with near-perfect diction, a stable sense of pitch, an intelligent grasp of the varying emotions of each work, and solid accord between singers and director.

Aided by optimum acoustics, the chorus performed a first-rate Christmas-oriented program at Bethesda’s Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church on Sunday.

The audience — a full house — was treated to a pleasant series of nearly 20 seasonally appropriate carols and anthems. Listeners applauded after each selection, which broke the flow of the music and was time-consuming.

The afternoon centered on the premiere of Lori Laitman’s “The Earth and I,” a first-time commission by the chorus. An unaccompanied setting of three poems by Emily Dickinson, the cycle generally adheres to the traditional language of 20th-century choral writing. But it has some lively interruptions of texture with interchanging contrapuntal and repetitive ostinato devices that emphasize Dickinson’s power-packed imagery.

The chorus clearly conveyed the mystical mood of Gustav Holst’s well-known hymn “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” and, in sharp contrast, the jubilant tang of two samples from Richard Rodney Bennett’s “Five Carols.” Cantor Kyle Burke’s fervent voice in Max Janowski’s “Sim Shalom” was a fitting close to the afternoon.

Lori Laitman (Christian Steiner)

Porter is a freelance writer.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Perks of private flying
Drawing as an act of defiance
Play Videos
Husband finds love, loss in baseball
Bao: The signature dish of San Francisco
From foster homes to the working world
Play Videos
How soccer is helping Philadelphia men kick the streets
Here's why you hate the sound of your own voice
The woman behind the Nats’ presidents ‘Star Wars’ makeover
Play Videos
How hackers can control your car from miles away
How to avoid harmful chemicals in school supplies
How much can one woman eat?

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.