Tuesday, July 05, 2005 | The La Jolla Symphony & Chorus recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a series of two spectacular performances of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” on the stage of Mandeville Auditorium at the University of California, San Diego. Before sold-out, enthusiastic audiences, more than 200 voices of the LJS&C chorus with the San Diego Master Choral and the San Diego North Coast Singers, sang together with a dazzling 125-musician orchestra.

The impressive soloists were Kate Oberjat, soprano; Dann Coakwell, tenor; and Joe Pechota, baritone. These performances began with a premiere performance of a Rand Steiger piece commissioned by Emeritus LJS&C Conductor Thomas Nee (who studied under famed conductor Herman Scherchen in Switzerland, also served as music department chair and conducted the LJS&C orchestra until his retirement) and one by Joseph Schwantner performed by Mathias Reumert, one of the leading percussion soloists of his generation and the winner of the 2005 Young Artists Competition. UCSD distinguished Maestro Harvey Sollberger directed the instrumental first part of the concerts, while Choral Director David Chase conducted both the combined choruses and the orchestra in “Carmina Burana.”

Did you know about the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus, these concerts and their performers?

David Chase has been the choral director for the past 31 years. Your reporter, who sang with a number of choruses from Paris, France to New York and California, and has been privileged to be a part of the LJS&C during some 17 years of its existence, can confidently assert that David Chase is one of the best of the breed. “Carmina Burana” is a wonderfully profane piece of music first performed in Frankfurt-am-Main in Nazi Germany on June 8, 1937. The Latin and archaic Middle High German lyrics date back to the 13th century, but were rediscovered in a Bavarian Abbey in 1803 and published in 1847. Carl Orff chose a selection of them for this composition that marks the whims of fickle fortune. The simple but powerful and syncopated strains of the music reveal their inner meaning to the listeners even without the benefit of translation. It is not easy music to perform well, but David Chase was, as usual, more than equal to this extraordinary task. These were historic performances by a remarkable combination of performing organizations that deserves to be better appreciated by the San Diego community.

Dr. Elie A. Shneour, a native of France and WWII U.S. veteran, is president of Biosystems Institutes, Inc. and Research Director of Biosystems Research Institute of San Diego, with divisions near Paris and Osaka, Japan.

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