Oratorio Chorus teams with Holland Hall, Tulsa Children's Chorus
BY JAMES D. WATTS JR. World Scene Writer
Friday, November 16, 2012
11/16/12 at 4:39 PM
Tim Sharp had two reasons he wanted to open the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus’ 20th-anniversary season with Ralph Vaughan Williams’ Christmas Cantata “Hodie.”
One was New York City’s Carnegie Hall.
The chorus will be traveling to New York City next week to repeat the concert it will present Saturday at the First Baptist Church, 403 S. Cincinnati Ave.
“When I started planning this season, I knew about this invitation to bring the chorus to New York,” said Sharp, the ensemble’s artistic director. “And I knew I wanted to open our season with ‘Hodie’ because I know it’s not performed much there.”
“Hodie (This Day)” uses a text made up of Bible verses and English poetry to retell the story of the birth of Christ. The chorus first performed the work as part of its 2010-11 season; the Tulsa World’s review of that concert stated that this work, with its poetic text and powerfully dramatic music, could become a holiday tradition.
“And that’s the other reason why we’re doing it,” Sharp said, laughing. “We’d like to make this a holiday tradition.”
The Carnegie Hall concert, which will be Nov. 23, will also feature “Mass of the Children” by the English composer John Rutter.
“Originally I had thought about doing a different Rutter piece called ‘When Icicles Hang,’ which uses texts from Shakespeare,” Sharp said. “But the people from Carnegie Hall wanted to combine our concert with one that Rutter himself would conduct, to make it an evening of British music. And Rutter wanted to do the ‘Mass of the Children.’ ”
Sharp agreed without hesitation. For one thing, Vaughan Williams’ “Hodie” requires a chorus of children as well as adults, as does the “Mass of the Children.”
“We’re having the Tulsa Children’s Chorus and the Holland Hall Middle School Chorus performing with us, so it gives them more to sing,” he said. “And, once we get to New York, they’ll have the opportunity to work with Mr. Rutter himself, who will be conducting the Mass at that performance.”
The Tulsa Symphony Orchestra will accompany the performance Saturday at First Baptist Church. For the Carnegie Hall concert, the orchestra will be the New England Symphonic Ensemble, a professional orchestra Sharp has worked with before.
The New York performance will be the third time the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus will have performed this program. Last weekend, the chorus performed the Vaughan Williams and Rutter works in Oklahoma City.
“So I’m feeling good about having a couple of performances under our belt before we play Carnegie Hall,” Sharp said.
Being in New York City the weekend of Thanksgiving means that the chorus members will have the chance to experience a lot of the city’s holiday traditions, such as the annual Macy’s parade.
“Most of the area of the city where we’ll be staying has recovered from Hurricane Sandy,” Sharp said. “In fact, that crane that was damaged and hanging over 57th Street was right over the hotel where we’re going to be staying. We all were watching how that situation developed pretty closely.”
In this 2011 file photo, the Tulsa Oratorio Chorus rehearses under the direction of Tim Sharp at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World File