Editor’s note: BAMirror’s Lee Shepherd usually reviews Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra concerts. Last weekend, however, she was a participant in a BPO performance. Here are her reflections:
By Lee Shepherd
Joy and brotherhood — that’s what Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is all about, and that’s what we experienced singing the massive choral and orchestral work with the Binghamton University Chorus and Binghamton Philharmonic Orchestra in front of a sold-out crowd last Saturday (April 16) at The Forum in Binghamton.
Months of preparation went into the concert, with excellent coaching from Bruce Borton and accompanist Bill Lawson and, in the last few days, inspired leadership from Maestro Jose-Luis Novo.
The choral work is a killer for singers, written in ranges outside of most vocalists’ comfort zones. It’s also a huge undertaking for orchestras — demanding, difficult and requiring a marathon runner’s strength to last through the hour-long piece.
Standing in the first row, right behind the virtuosic trumpets, contrabassoon, bassoons and percussion, gave me the best of both worlds — I was in the chorus but also felt part of the orchestra, vibrating with every note.
What made Saturday’s performance even more poignant and thrilling (besides the four curtain calls!) was that it was Novo’s last conducting job in Binghamton. After 13 years guiding the BPO, he’s moving on (we don’t know where he’s going — seems to be a closely guarded secret). From every report I’ve received, he’s much loved by the orchestra, and, of course, he’s been a delight for BPO audiences. His successor will have big shoes to fill.
As one friend told me, he kept his emotions in check until the bass soloist sounded our his first “Freude,” then sobbed for the rest of the symphony.
Thank you, Beethoven, Maestro Novo, Maestro Borton, my fellow singers and the Philharmonic instrumentalists for making this monumental event in Binghamton’s musical history so joyful.