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Review: Symphony, Canterbury offered touching tribute to bombing victims

The Oklahoma City Philharmonic rehearses Tuesday, October 29, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]
The Oklahoma City Philharmonic rehearses Tuesday, October 29, 2019. [Doug Hoke/The Oklahoman]

In memoriam of the tragedy at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building 25 years ago, The Oklahoma City Philharmonic, joined by Canterbury Voices, and the choirs of University of Oklahoma, offered a touching tribute to the victims and the community on their Classics concert, “From the Dramatic to the Sublime.”

Musically speaking, the first half of the concert was decidedly more “dramatic and sublime” than the second, opening with a formidable performance of Stokowski’s Romantic orchestration of Bach’s solemn "Passacaglia and Fugue" in C Minor, and closing with a delicate, impassioned, and supremely expressive performance of Chopin’s "Concerto No. 2" by pianist Angela Cheng.

The second half featured two newly commissioned works with chorus, prefaced by an eloquent, heartfelt testimonial of a woman widowed by the horrific terrorist attack. She beautifully described the process of grief, hope, and the transformative process of moving forward from the devastation of tragedy.

The first commissioned work, "The Limits of Almost" by Matthew Patton was startlingly minimalistic. While convincingly conveying the shock and desolation felt in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic event, the piece unfortunately stagnated in that state, which didn’t fit the narrative or tone put forth by the nuanced, hopeful speech that preceded it.

"Of Thee I Sing" by Jonathan Leshnoff was more engaging, and took us on a journey from an anxiety-driven opening section to a reflective setting of “My Country tis of Thee.” The choir sounded fantastic, and the piece was well-crafted. However, the patriotic tune seemed entirely insufficient to express the emotional and spiritual depth of a memorial work. A hymn or an original text would have been more appropriate.

— Lauren Monteiro, for The Oklahoman

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