Author Archives: jwalsh2013

About jwalsh2013

John P. Walsh is an art historian, writer and photographer. He has an M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory and Criticism from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and taught Modern Art History at Northwestern University. Follow his work @ http://johnpwalshblog.com/ Pinterest @ http://www.pinterest.com/lang52tr/ Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/john.p.walshiii.

“Notre Dame is on Fire!”: a look at the inferno that devastated the world-famous Gothic cathedral in Paris, its immediate aftermath, and what could be ahead.

By John P. Walsh, May 21, 2019.

Flames engulf Notre Dame de Paris in an historic early evening blaze on Monday, April 15, 2019. The fire left the 850-year-old Gothic cathedral standing, but suffering serious damage.

Hundreds of Paris firefighters battled the blaze for hours at Notre Dame de Paris on April 15, 2019. They saved the cathedral though its expansive timber roof, frame and spire burned crashed into the nave.

Notre Dame de Paris suffered a devastating fire on April 15, 2019 causing most of its roof and a 300-foot oak spire to collapse. The fire broke out during an early evening Mass when more than 1,000 people were in the cathedral which is the most touristic site in the center of the most touristic city in the world. The priest had been in the middle of reading that day’s Gospel of John. It was Holy Monday, the first day of Holy Week where the gospel tells the story of Mary pouring oil over the feet of Jesus which will anoint him for burial. Judas complains the perfume could have been sold and the money given to the poor.1

Notre Dame de Paris (“Our Lady of Paris” named in honor of the Virgin Mary) will take years, even decades, to rebuild and at great expense. This will be the case whether the edifice is simply restored or, as some have argued for, more creatively re-imagined for modern times. Whichever rebuilding vision or visions are followed – and there will be voices from many quarters involved in the restoration process ahead – French president Emmanuel Macron promised to complete its rebuilding by around 2024. Within 48 hours of the fire, donations poured in from around the world to rebuild the cathedral amounting to more than one billion dollars whose substantial amount may prove inadequate to fully cover rebuilding costs.2

While the fire’s precise ultimate cause is yet to be fully determined, the conditions surrounding the blaze are recognizably available: its spotty maintenance record over 10 centuries; the anachronistic methods and complexity of its 21st century renovation going on when the fire broke out; the 12th and 13th century flammable oak “forest’” that constitutes the building’s roof and frame; and the challenges encountered by hundreds of firefighters owing to the cathedral’s size and the fire’s location and breadth. Ironically, the Cathedral roof that burned—a major attic fire— was one of the larger parts of the original 12th century builder’s monied investment.3

Notre Dame de Paris is one of Paris’s famous icons–an historical and religious treasure–and one of France’s great cathedrals along with Reims (which was nearly destroyed by fire during World War I) and Chartres (reconstructed after a fire in 1194). Others on any short list of great French cathedrals would include Amiens and Bourges, among others.

Notre Dame de Paris before the April 15, 2019 blaze. The Roman Catholic cathedral is the tourist mecca in the most touristed city in the world.

Reims Cathedral on fire in World War 1. The site of the coronation of French kings, the Gothic cathedral was virtually destroyed by bombing. After the war, the massive cathedral was completely rebuilt.

In 1163 when it became time to roof the superstructure of Notre Dame de Paris’s choir which was the first part of the church to be constructed, Paris bishop Maurice de Sully (1120-1196) provided 5000 French livres so that it could be richly and securely layered with lead. That and other of the Cathedral roof’s protective lead covering was stolen during the French Revolution in the eighteenth century. The roof’s space and design provided a large part of the church’s riddle of secret passages – including spiral staircases in the nave’s columns – that served mainly for the needs of the religious complex’s maintenance. Obviously twelfth and thirteenth century engineering proved resilient but not impregnable over ten centuries. The 2019 blaze caused serious damage leaving questions to be answered about the medieval stone and timber building’s ultimate stability. This is highly symbolic as Notre Dame de Paris is Paris Point Zero – the very center not only of the Île-de la-Cité and Paris, but the place from which all distances in France and, by extension, the world are to be judged.4

The Paris bishop Maurice de Sully (1120-1196) who with his chapter of cathedral canons started the building of Notre Dame de Paris in 1163. The structure was completed in 1250.

Episodes from the life of a bishop, c.1500, oil on panel, 61.5 x 47 cm, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Though about 300 years after the death of Bishop de Sully, this artwork captures some of the grandeur and long history of the archbishop at his cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris.

The story of the Gothic cathedral, such as Notre Dame de Paris, is essentially a French story. By the end of the Gothic Movement in the late 14th century, all corners of France -– and points between — possessed a Gothic church that displayed pointed arch, stained glass, and buttresses, some of them magnificently flying. The style and power of Gothic art reflected not only a new theological thinking in the Renaissance of the 12th century but also an assertion of royal power.5

Notre Dame de Paris viewed from the south side of the Seine. Its magnificent flying buttresses can be seen supporting the nave and apse as well as its oak spire erected in 1860 that burned and crashed into the nave during the April 15, 2019 fire.

Collégiale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Laurent d’Eu in far northeastern France is a Gothic church constructed between 1186 and 1240, roughly contemporaneous to Notre Dame de Paris. The subterranean crypt contains the tomb (excepting his heart which is at Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin) of Irish St. Laurence O’Toole (1128-1180). The main impetus for the building of the new Gothic Collégiale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Laurent d’Eu was to accommodate the pilgrims who came to venerate at the saint’s tomb. French Gothic building efforts stretched from a Collégiale Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Laurent d’Eu (1186) in northeastern France to Toulouse Cathedral (13th century) in the south in France’s historic Languedoc.

It was the age of international crusades of Western conquest to the Holy Land where a French king, King Louis IX, or St. Louis (1214-1270) led its seventh manifestation from 1248 to 1254 and died while on its Eighth. Here the king purchased relics to bring back to France, including the highly prized Crown of Thorns reputedly worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion. During the April 2019 fire, scores of ordinary people and cathedral personnel formed a human chain to save the cathedral’s many irreplaceable artifacts and preventing them from being consumed forever into the hellish blaze.

Louis IX (St. Louis) with his counselors and mother Blanche de Castile (1188-1252) in a miniature of the 15th century.

King Louis IX, or St. Louis (1214-1270) led the Seventh Crusade from 1248 to 1254.

As one of the first cathedrals built Notre Dame de Paris is of enduring architectural significance. Monday, April 15, 2019 was a tragic day in history as fire broke out in the 850-year old edifice while the world watched. Thousands of people gathered in the streets of Paris, and transmitted pictures of the dramatic blaze from smartphones and other devices onto the internet and television. It caused many to shed tears as well as express consternation and questions about what lies ahead for one of the most famous and beloved symbols of Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris is on fire, April 15, 2019. Countless pictures were taken and transmitted instantaneously around the world on the internet.

Extent of the fire damage (in red) at Notre Dame de Paris on April 15, 2019.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2019 fire, workers aimed to secure and protect the edifice which will take several months to finalize. By May 2019, the north tower was stabilized and secured while the transept’s beams were declared in good condition. Although the interior was not damaged, the structural integrity of the high vaults that protected it remains precariously uncertain and requires further close study to determine its ultimate fate. The cathedral is undergoing a major effort to remove fire debris including the oak spire (or flèche) dating from 1860 and the arch that fell into the nave.

To the highest degree possible, each bit of fallen debris will be deciphered, cataloged and saved for potential reuse in a restoration. Just one month after the fire, it would be premature to determine if the building is completely stable and it could still suffer some sort of collapse. Working on the cathedral in the 21st century are virtually the same type of skilled laborers who built it in the first place in the 12th and 13th centuries – namely, masons, stonecutters, carpenters, roofers, iron workers, and master glassmakers.6 The work associated with the Notre Dame de Paris in the aftermath of the 2019 fire promises to concentrate long centuries of history into one place looking to sustain its continued thriving existence for future generations.

NOTES:

1. “Vows to Restore Notre Dame Following a Harrowing Rescue,” by Sam Schechner and Stacy Meichtry, The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2019; see Gospel of John, Chapter 12.

2. “Some say the $1 billion donated to the Paris cathedral should’ve been directed elsewhere,” by Sigal Samuel, Vox, April 20, 2019 – https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2019/4/20/18507964/notre-dame-cathedral-fire-charity-donations- retrieved May 21, 2019.

3. Gimpel, Jean, The Cathedral Builders, Grove Press, Inc., New York and Evergreen Books, Ltd., London, 1961, pp. 171-72.

4. see “Paris Point Zero” – https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/paris-point-zero – retrieved May 21, 2019.

5. Duby, Georges, The Age of the Cathedrals: Art and Society, 980-1420, translated by Eleanor Levieux and Barbara Thompson, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, 1981, p.97.

6. “Notre-Dame de Paris: Very serious damage that can be repaired,” Élodie Maurot, La Croix International, May 14, 2019 – https://international.la-croix.com/news/notre-dame-de-paris-very-serious-damage-that-can-be-repaired/10094 – retrieved May 20, 2019.

Text©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Lee Miller (1907-1977), Photographer, Surrealist, and Aesthete, Part 1: the Poughkeepsie years, 1907-1925.

Text by John P. Walsh

The Millers, Theodore, Elizabeth Lee, Erik, John and Florence, in 1923.

In the first decades of the twentieth century it became increasingly common practice for established American families to reflect and display their personal lives as well as social status in the timely gathering of photographic portraits. Progressively, the American family unit grew more compact in tandem with its greater personal affluence in an economy increasingly dominated by mechanization and the manufacture of consumer goods, all of which worked relentlessly to replace farming as the engine of American enterprise.

The Millers of Poughkeepsie, New York, – a seventeenth century town eighty miles north of New York City which in the eighteenth century had progressed to an early state capital and, by 1910, a significant stop on the railroad line1 – shared that prototypical family form as they gathered for their family portraits between 1914 and 1932. After 1900, camera availability and quality had markedly improved. Moving into the popular culture, photography allowed the display of a family image that is relaxed and natural as well as a time capsule of its members. In the instance of the Millers their formal and informal photographic portraits capture what appears to be a cohesive family unit expressive of their times. They are within a thoughtfully creative pose and posture likely managed by the head of the household, Theodore Miller, an energetic lifelong amateur photographer. These portraits are ambitious for an aesthetic which manifests as a controlled vibrancy in the sitters as well as overall composition. The outcome for these portraits which all include Lee Miller as a child and teenager are photographs that combine the qualities of the fine arts with the more delicate workings of a machine. 

Lee Miller at about eight months old, c. December 1907. Taken by her father Theodore Miller, the amateur photographer would photograph his daughter near incessantly from her childhood into adulthood. Part chronicle, part creative project, their photographer-model relationship could be unusual as he photographed his daughter nude at times over the same time period.

Lee Miller at 8 years by Theodore Miller, 1915.

The Millers, headed by highly credentialed mechanical engineer and amateur photographer Theodore Miller (1872-1971) and his wife Florence (1881-1954), saw the couple produce a handsome family: brothers John MacDonald (December 15, 1905-2008) and Erik Theodore (born May 22, 1910-?) and middle daughter, Elizabeth Lee, later Lee Miller, Lady Penrose (April 23, 1907-1977).

In childhood, Lee was curious, had her special interests and likes, especially the newly invented movies, and was encouraged by her parents to be free and active. Rambunctious in youth, Li-Li (Elizabeth Lee’s nickname) expressed herself as a sort of tomboy and later a definite teenage rebel. In school she was often undisciplined and, as the ringleader, provocative.2

When she was ten years old in 1917, her father gave Li-Li an inexpensive and popular Kodak Brownie to take photographs. Kodak used the box camera to sell more products and popularize photography. Almost more like a toy, the Brownie series was first introduced in 1900 and extensively marketed to children,3 although they were taken by soldiers into World War I. In the age of the American invention, teenage Li-Li Miller, intelligent and creative, was also fascinated by her father’s enduring experimentation with new camera gadgets including stereoscopy. That photographic application produced two-dimensional images which, when combined in the brain, gave the perception of three-dimensional depth.4

The Millers in 1914: Florence, Erik, Lee, John, Theodore.

Lee Miller and her mother in 1914.

In an almost desperate search for an academic program to constructively engage their daughter’s interest, the Millers placed Li-Li in and out of several schools around Poughkeepsie. Lee traipsed through Governor Clinton school to Oakwood Quaker to St. Mary’s Catholic to Eastman Business College to Putnam Hall known as the prep school for local Vassar College. Even with extra-curricular dance and theater activities as well as sojourns into creative writing – along with extended trips to New York City and, accompanying her father on business, to Puerto Rico on a cruise – by 1920 Li-Li seemed only most uniquely prepared to embrace the intrepid nonchalance of the flapper whose age had arrived thanks to the appearance of This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The teenager bobbed and later permed her golden hair as she looked for the next exit out of Poughkeepsie. At the end of a record-cold spring of 1925, Li-Li, called spoiled and well-to-do by many of her neighborhood classmates, took a ship for Paris, France, on May 29. The Millers’ intention was not to internationalize the shortcomings of their daughter’s educational career, but to assist in the rebellious 18-year-old’s discovery and development of a talent and skill to match her artistic temperament.5 No one could predict in 1925 that after spending this short period of time in Europe as a teenager, Li-Li Miller of Poughkeepsie, New York, will, as Lee Miller, finally return there to spend most of the rest of her life, over 50 years.

The Millers in 1920: Lee, Erik, Theodore, Florence and John. With the onset of the flapper age, 13-year-old Lee swiftly bobbed her hair to match the oncoming decade’s new style.

In the cold spring of 1925, Lee Miller joined by her father boards the ship that will take her to Paris to study. Hopes are that in Paris she will find and develop the talented skill to express her artistic temperament.

FOOTNOTES:

1. Burke, Carolyn, Lee Miller: A Life, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006, p.6.
2. Haworth-Booth, Mark, The Art of Lee Miller, Yale University Press, 2007, p. 14; provocative-Burke, p. 24.
3. Roberts, Hilary, Lee Miller: A Woman’s War, Thames & Hudson, 2015, p. 190.
4. see Lincoln, Tom, Exercises in Three Dimensions, 2011. http://www.lincolntom.com/pages/Exercises%20in%203D.html- retrieved April 17, 2019
5. Roberts, p.194; https://thestarryeye.typepad.com/weather/april/page/2/

Text©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system. (CR)

Maui Hawaii, May 1988: Photographs I Forgot I Had, USA.

Ka’anapali Beach, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Cockatoo, Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Bronze Buddha, Thailand, 19th Century, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Bodhisattva,Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Main Pool, Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Footpath, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Free Form Pool, Hyatt Regency Maui, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Lahina Roads, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Road to Hana, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Hookipa Beach, Wind Surfing, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Kaʻahumanu Church (1876), Wailuku, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Sugar Cane, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

West Maui Mountains, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Iao Needle, Iao Valley State Park Monument, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Self Portrait, Wailuku, Maui, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988

West Maui Mountains, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Cambodian Buddha, Maui, Hawaii, May 13, 1988.

Evening, Maui, Hawaii, May 12, 1988.

Hollywood Glamour Portraits: Hedy Lamarr

Hedy Lamarr, M-G-M, 1940. Photograph by László Willinger (1909-1989).

Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000) posed for this glamour portrait in 1940. The legendary Austrian beauty was 27 years old. Since her first American film, Algiers, in 1938, Lamarr was considered one of the most beautiful women in the movies, if not the world.

This publicity photograph of Lamaar is for the 1940 American adventure film Boom Town. It co-stars Clark Gable, Spencer Tracy and Claudette Colbert. This beautiful color portrait was taken by László Willinger (1909-1989), a German-born emigré who made many glamour photographs of celebrities starting in the later 1930’s.

In Boom Town, Lamarr plays Karen VanMeer, a sophisticated and elegant corporate spy. She is recruited by Clark Gable who plays “Big John” McMasters, an oil speculator.

Text©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Hedy Lamarr, 1938. Photograph by Clarence Sinclair Bull (1896-1979).

Hedy Lamarr, 1939, László Willinger.

Madame Bovary (1949) by Vincente Minnelli: the Waltz Scene.

In the 1949 film Madame Bovary directed by Vincente Minnelli, beautiful and charming Madame Bovary (Jennifer Jones) meets wealthy Rodolphe Boulanger (Louis Jourdan) at a ball where he literally sweeps her off her feet. Aggravated by her husband (Van Heflin) not fitting into high society, Madame Bovary begins a love affair with Rodolphe. Though the pair scheme to elope to Italy, Rodolphe does not love Madame Bovary. 

The Waltz Scene was Filmed to the Music 

One of the film’s most carefully wrought and delightful scenes is this ballroom sequence. It was one of the last segments to be shot. The film footage was tailored to Miklós Rózsa’s music. Minnelli explained to the composer in advance the camera movements so he could write the music (in an arrangement for two pianos). The scene was then filmed to match it. Their artistic collaboration produced one of cinema’s most original scenes uniting robust music with weaving and gliding images.

“Break the Windows”

As Rodolphe swirls her, Emma Bovary’s head spins until she becomes dizzy. The viewer sees her disorientation as the camera takes her viewpoint. She keeps dancing but asks for fresh air. Her request leads to an extraordinary and incredible reaction by the stewards. They start to smash the ballroom’s windows with chairs to help her cool down. This fantastically destructive action of broken glass aligns with the destruction of Emma’s romantic illusions throughout the film. 

Night of Repressed Passion

Along with her husband’s boorish behavior at the ball and everywhere else, her romantic disappointment leaves Madame Bovary feeling publicly humiliated. Instead of love and excitement, she runs out of the ball in shame. Though she yearns for happiness and excitement, her pursuit of selfish pleasures ends in scandal and ruin.

In reaction to Madame Bovary becoming dizzy while waltzing with a new lover, the stewards smash the ballroom windows to give her air. This extraordinary action is ultimately symbolic of the destruction of Madame Bovary’s romantic illusions.
Jennifer Jones as Madame Bovary offers a performance that is elegant and beautiful and equally insightful to the character’s selfish and nervous personality that in the end finds her own death more attractive than living with her shattered romantic illusions.

Madame Bovary Movie Poster.
Publicity photo for Madame Bovary showed the love triangle of Jennifer Jones, Louis Jourdan, and Van Heflin.
In Vincente Minnelli’s 1949 film Madame Bovary, 30-year-old Jennifer Jones plays Gustave Flaubert’s doomed character from his 1856 serial novel.

Jennifer Jones as Madame Bovary offers a performance that is elegant and beautiful and equally insightful to the character’s selfish and nervous personality that in the end finds her own death more attractive than living with her shattered romantic illusions.

 

 

©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Images of Ballet.

Pointe shoesPointe shoes.

Marie Rambert (1888-1982), prominent dance teacher in British Ballet, with students in the late 1940’s. She founded Rambert Dance Company, still active today.
Ballet developed mainly in Russia in the late nineteenth century that included the revival of the male role and rise of the pas de deux.

Irving Penn (1917-2009), Ballet Society, New York, 1948.

The Dream, a one act-ballet adapted from Shakespeare, was created in 1964 by Frederick Ashton (1904-1988) for the Royal Ballet. Depicted is elegant Oberon, king of the forest fairies, in a later production. The popular music is by Félix Mendelssohn.

With music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) and first performed in 1965, Onegin is one of the most popular story ballets for audiences to watch and for dancers to aspire to perform in. His ballet masterpiece, Onegin was created by John Cranko (1927-1973). The lead roles of Tatiana and Onegin, and Olga and Lensky, are finely drawn characters who tell a story of love and tragedy through a series of intricate and diverse dance sequences.

A staple of The Royal Ballet since its premiere in 1978, Mayerling by principal choreographer and former artistic director Kenneth MacMillan (1929-1992) is a tragic story based on the true story of the murder-suicide of the dissolute crown prince of Austria-Hungary and his mistress. The music is by Franz Liszt. Appearing in virtually every scene in a three act ballet, the male lead dancer performing with five different ballerinas, is one of the most demanding roles of the ballet stage. Mayerling is the Imperial hunting lodge in the Vienna Woods where the bodies of the pair were discovered on January 30, 1889.

Considered the greatest Italian ballerina of the late nineteenth century, Pierina Legnani (1868-1930) trained at La Scala Theatre Ballet School in Milan and later danced famously throughout Europe, especially in Italy and Russia. at the Imperial Marinsky Theatre in 1896 for the lead role in La Perle, an original production created for Legnani.

Modern production at The Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia. The historic theater of ballet and opera opened in 1860.

Pierina Legnani with Olga Preobrajenska in 1899, two of the greatest ballerinas dancing in the late nineteenth century (1871-1962).

Natalya Bessmertnova and Mikhail Lavrovsky dance the roles of Giselle and Albrecht in Adam’s ballet Giselle. With its premiere at the Paris Opera (Salle Le Peletier) in June 1841, the ballet Giselle was a triumph and immediately staged across Europe. The music is composed by Adolphe Adam (1803-1856) and became the French composer’s most popular and enduring work. Musically Adam introduced the leitmotif, that is, a specific theme for a character who appears on stage in the ballet. The libretto was scored by Théophile Gautier (1811-1872) and Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges (1799-1875) with choreography by Jean Coralli (1779-1854) and Jules Perrot (1810-1892). The story is about two lovers, Giselle and Albrecht. When Giselle discovers that Albrecht is already betrothed to Bathilde she dies of a broken heart at the end of Act I. This leads to the appearance in Act II of a group of otherworldly and potentially mortally dangerous Wilis, a type of young female vampire, intent on revenge for Giselle by securing Albrecht’s destruction.

Paris Opera (Salle Le Peletier) in 1844 by A. Provost, depicted around the time of the premiere of Adolphe Adam’s triumphant ballet Giselle. The opera building, opened in 1820, was completely destroyed by fire in 1873 and replaced in a new location by today’s Palais Garnier.

Opera Le Peletier salle by Gustave Janet (1829-1898) in 1858.

Street Ballet.

Christmas Choral Concert: Bel Canto Chorus, Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s independent 100-voice Bel Canto Chorus–founded in 1931–performs carols and hymns in the historic Basilica of St. Josaphat, a Polish-style church in Milwaukee completed in 1901 and boasting one of the largest copper domes in the world.

The Bel Canto Chorus is made up of singers from throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northeastern Illinois. Their Christmas concert is one of their most locally popular of the year and its weekend of Christmas concerts is often sold out.

In this 2012 performance, Music Director Richard Hynson conducts. Hynson has been music director of the Bel Canto Chorus since 1987 and in 2012 received the American Prize in Choral Conducting, Community Choral Division. The Bel Canto Chorus has an impressive international performance portfolio, including performances at the Spoleto Music Festival in Italy and music festivals in France, the UK, Ireland, Canada and Argentina and Uruguay.

This wonderful performance features the Stained Glass Brass and Bel Canto Boy Chorus, both conducted by Ellen Shuler.

PROGRAM:
Once in Royal David’s City – H.J. Gauntlett
Ding Dong Merrily on High – George Radcliffe Woodward
A Spotless Rose – Herbert Howells
O Come, All Ye Faithful – J.F. Wade
Welcome All Wonders – Richard Dirksen
Gloria-John Rutter
Silent Night-Franz Grüber
Joy To The World – George Frideric Handel
We Wish You A Merry Christmas – arranged by John Rutter

This performance is approximately one hour.

Notes©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Christmas Choral Concert: The Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir, University Chapel, Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama.

Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) was called “The Sage” of Tuskegee Institute outside Montgomery, Alabama. Founded by Washington in 1881, the Institute thrives today as Tuskegee University, home to more than 3,000 students from the U.S. and dozens of foreign countries.

The historically African-American college boasts several academic distinctions today, especially in the broad range of the sciences, engineering, medicine and math. This stems from the coeducational school’s founding value of industrial education.

Booker T. WashingtonBooker T. Washington.

Tuskegee is home to the first bioethics center in the United States: the National Center for Bioethics in Research & Health Care. Founded in 1999, the Center is devoted to the exploration of the core moral issues which underlie research and medical treatment of African-Americans as well as other under-served populations by bringing together in dialogue the sciences, humanities, law and religion.

In addition to excellence in these important academic fields, Tuskegee, with over 60 degree programs, offers study in the Liberal Arts, Fine Arts, and Humanities. This includes The Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir in the Department of Fine & Performing Arts.

Tuskegee’s first singing groups were organized by Washington as early as 1884 with the choir formally founded by Washington in 1886. Booker T. Washington, who grew up in slavery as a child, had witnessed music and singing’s central value to the African-American experience.

In chapter one of his highly readable and interesting American classic autobiography, Up From Slavery, he writes: “Finally the war closed, and the day of freedom came. It was a momentous and eventful day to all upon our plantation. We had been expecting it. Freedom was in the air, and had been for months… As the great day drew nearer, there was more singing in the slave quarters than usual. It was bolder, had more ring, and lasted later into the night. Most of the verses of the plantation songs had some reference to freedom. True, they had sung those same verses before, but they had been careful to explain that the “freedom” in these songs referred to the next world, and had no connection with life in this world. Now they gradually threw off the mask, and were not afraid to let it be known that the “freedom” in their songs meant freedom of the body in this world.“

Washington insisted that Tuskegee’s always augmenting student body at the Christian nondenominational school sing spirituals at weekly Chapel worship services. Washington, and all Tuskegee’s successor presidents to the present day, have maintained a deep love and appreciation for the arts, especially above all music. Booker T. Washington wrote the students, exhorting them: “…If you go out to have schools of your own, have your pupils sing [Negro spirituals] as you have sung them here, and teach them to see the beauty which dwells in these songs…”

In each academic year the Tuskegee University Golden Voices Choir performs extensively throughout the state of Alabama, as well as nationally and internationally (Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Canada in 2018).

Their Christmas Concert is held each December in the University Chapel under the direction of Dr. Wayne Anthony Barr. Dr. Barr is assisted by Mrs. Brenda Shuford at the piano who herself is a lifelong music educator and ordained minister at her Baptist church in Montgomery. Also taking significant part is Warren L. Duncan who heads the Department of Fine & Performing Arts at Historic Tuskegee University.

The choir has had a momentous performance history performing before American presidents and this entire concert offers the listener the flavor of its wonderful spirit and deep talent shared at Christmas-time.

The concert is approximately two hours and fifteen minutes.

Notes©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.

Christmas Choral Concert: The Angeles Chorale, First United Methodist Church, Pasadena, California, performs John Rutter’s “Gloria.”

For over 40 years, the Angeles Chorale has brought inspiring choral music to greater Los Angeles, California. It is an all-volunteer choral group comprised of about one hundred voices. The Angeles Chorale was founded in 1975 as one of the local Valley Master Chorales and merged in 1987 with California State University Northridge’s Masterworks Chorale under the baton of Artistic Director John Alexander. For the next nine years Alexander led the assemblage into a professional standard, and changed its name to the Angeles Chorale. Donald Neuen took over the podium in the 1996-1997 season. Neuen, Director of Choral Activities at UCLA, focused the chorale’s repertoire on classical music masterworks for chorus and orchestra such as Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, and Mahler. For the 2010-2011 season, Neuen handed the baton to its present-day Artistic Director Dr. John Sutton, who had been with the chorale since 2004. Sutton continues to actively study with Professor Neuen, now retired, among others, and utilizes the Angeles Chorale’s versatility and mastery in classic music and current music in concert programming.

While only about twenty minutes long, John Rutter’s chorale masterpiece Gloria is reputed to be a challenging work – and this performance at First United Methodist Church Pasadena on December 15, 2012, while continuing to strive for perfection in minor technicalities, remains overall excellent. The Angeles Chorale really takes the three movement work as its own. This is a musical performance that is vibrant, active, personal, alive, and while not perhaps the most refined performance of this favorite work on record, it provides the listener with an aural experience that leaves one on the edge of their seat which is a power not typically found in other performances. This engaging vibrancy could be part of Sutton’s ease and familiarity with popular musical forms, such as for film and television, that infuses this choral piece’s unique harmonies, structures, and rhythms with a branded verve and, if imperfectly, then confidently based on the chorale and brass’s obvious performative exuberance and enjoyment.

John Rutter’s Gloria is the English composer’s musical setting of parts of the Latin Gloria which is a Christian hymn. Rutter’s work was written in 1974 and has been part of the Christmas concert tradition ever since. The Latin Gloria is also known as “The Hymn of the Angels” because they are the words the angels sang when, in Luke 2:14, the angelic host hovered over the shepherds in the field to announce Christ’s birth. “Gloria in excelsis Deo,” the shepherds heard the angels sing, “Glory to God in the highest.” (20.23 minutes).

  1. Allegro vivace – “Gloria in excelsis Deo”
  2. Andante – “Domine Deus”
  3. Vivace e ritmico – “Quoniam tu solas sanctus.”

The performance is approximately 20 minutes.

Notes©John P. Walsh. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system.