NCS Performs Dramatic Spring Concert Program

Under the direction of Dr. George Case, the NCS Spring Concert offered audiences a dramatic and moving program featuring James Whitbourn’s powerful oratorio Annelies, the only musical setting based on the story of Anne Frank.  

The Newburyport Choral Society’s Spring Concert featured British composer James Whitbourn’s powerful oratorio Annelies, the only musical setting based on the story of Anne Frank during the Holocaust. Commissioned and premiered in 2005 by the Jewish Music Institute, librettist Melanie Challenger crafted Anne Frank’s story into a dramatic and emotional journey for singers and audiences alike.  There was great interest in this concert across Newburyport because of the City’s emphasis on tolerance in the community, and Mayor Donna Holaday introduced both performances. Three Newburyport HS students from the Creative Writing Class of English Teacher and NCS Member Debbie Szabo read poems they wrote describing their reactions to Anne Frank’s text that were inserted into the piece at different points in the concert. These students were Aberash Baisley, NHS Sophomore, and NHS Seniors Sophie Cates and Charlie Lake.

Performed with a chamber orchestra of violin, cello, clarinet, and piano accompaniment and a soprano soloist, the music featured styles that are classical and challenging as well as a cabaret influence, depicting the musical interests of the time period. Soprano soloist Rachele Schmiege gave a stunning performance with a powerful, pure, and soaring voice portraying the words of Anne Frank. The concert also featured NCS accomplished pianist Dr. Kirsten Hegeland as a member of the chamber orchestra.

NCS ended the concert with Whitbourn’s healing All Shall Be Amen and Alleluia, transcending the horrors of history and underlining a belief in the power of the human spirit to triumph.

The work was met with standing ovations by the audiences of both the Saturday and Sunday Concerts. One audience member wrote:

                 “Annelies would be a difficult piece for any professional choral group to perform but the skill of  the conductor Dr. George Case, the great passion of the chorus, and the outstanding soloist and chamber orchestra created an atmosphere that connected us to Anne Frank’s courage and sense of life in the face of enormous difficulty and fear. In all my years of attending concerts, never have I been so touched.”

Go to the Website BLOG section for the responses of NCS members who sang this concert.

Program notes can be found here.

The entire Program Booklet can be read here.

Author: ncsadmin

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