Thursday, April 2, 2009

Delius' "A Mass Of Life" Starring Doorman-Priest


Back in Leeds from the Yorkshire Moors and on to the performance of Frederick Delius' "A Mass of Life" performed by the Leeds Philharmonic and Leeds Festival Choruses, the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, and four soloists at Leeds Town Hall. The picture above shows the group and the hall in all their splendor. The ladies wore red and the men black tie. DP was the best-looking gray-haired man in the chorus, quite elegant in his formal suit. He's in the second row of the chorus near the center, a little to the left. What? You can't make him out? Well, that's too bad, because he looked quite handsome.

I'd never heard this work before, but it is splendid, and all performed beautifully. If you won't take my word for it, you can read a review by a real music critic in the Wharfedale & Airdale Observer.

The hall itself is a sight to behold, and the singers and orchestra in their contrasting red and black - well you can see for yourself in the picture that it was a colorful feast for the eyes.

Now comes confession time. I was about five minutes late for the concert, and the group started RIGHT ON TIME! In New Orleans and even at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, performances almost never start promptly, but this one did, and because of my habitual tardiness, I had the misfortune of not being allowed in, and I had to listen to the first part of the piece on TV in a room on the side of the main hall. Of course, I would not have wanted to go in and make a disturbance, even if I had been allowed.

That's the bad news. The good news is that the performance after the intermission or interval, as they say "over there", was longer than the first part. In the hall, all was grand and glorious sound. Hearing the music on TV was not at all the same.

I hoped to sneak into my seat without DP ever knowing that I didn't get into the hall for the first part of the concert, but I ran right smack into him and was caught out in my delinquency. He was quite the gentleman about it. How could he not be looking so handsome in his formal clothes?

After the concert, we headed to DP's favorite pub to meet his friends. We had our drinks and chatted. I told the group that I had met DP on an online dating service. I hope his bishop doesn't read my blog, because he could start off on the wrong foot in his ministry before he even starts his ministry.

Calling the work a "Mass" is a broad use of the term, because the text is taken from Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, which is in no sense Christian. I asked DP if the pope knew about this. He said that some church authorities will not permit the work to be performed in a church building.

DP gave me the program for the concert as a souvenir. Inside is the entire text of the piece with German on one side of the page and English on the other. The English translation is hilarious. It was obviously done by someone with little command of the English language. I wanted to show it to our blog friend Erika while she was in Leeds. She does English-German and German-English translations and would have thought it a hoot. Unfortunately, I forgot.

Altogether a lovely evening, even if I didn't get to hear the first part of the "Mass" from the hall. See. I'm still playing Pollyanna's "Glad Game".