Texas Choral Consort’s Schola Cantorum of Austin tour of Austria & Germany, spring 2004
Reviews from the German and Austrian press
Munich Merkur, 20 March 2004 (translated)
For original article (in German), click here
MUSIC UNITES PEOPLE
Dachau — Many Dachau friends of choral music appeared in the Maria Himmelfahrt Church as the U.S. choir, the Texas Choral Consort, under the direction of Barry Scott Williamson, began its European tour in Dachau and gave an hour-long free concert. The organizer of the Mariä Himmelfahrt Church asked instead that donations be given for the new organ. The 31 male and female singers offered an impressive and energized program and earned the right to enjoy thunderous applause, which the listeners gave them deservedly during the performance and from beginning to end.
Following the greeting and message from Pastor Heimann and choir director Williamson, first of all there rang out what are, in this country, the well known and friendly sounds of Mozart’s Ave verum Corpus and J. S. Bach’s Jesus bleibet meine Freude from Cantata #147. Then followed beautiful choral works of Gabriel Fauré and Aaron Copland, the impressive Alleluia of Randall Thomson, as well as the “Sanctus” from a Mass of the highest rank by the TCC choral singer Patricia M. Long, who also composed the folk song “How Beautiful Upon the Mountains,” which followed.
Women’s solo voices in dreamlike harmony
After that the choir transitioned into a spiritual grouping, from which the lively Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit, with bass soloist Gil Zilkha, stood out. But the Texas Choral Consort also had at its disposal beautiful women’s soli voices: The soprano Kirsten Watson impressed with an aria from Mozart’s Idomeneo and yet more in a duet with mezzo-soprano Lori Erickson. In dreamlike harmony the two voices combined in the sweet “Pie Jesu” from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem. Special praise is also due at this late hour to organist Elaine Dykstra, whose accompaniment of the program was sure and superior. As for the final chorus, The Lord Bless You and Keep You by John Rutter, the choir even had to sing it twice: Without this second rendering, the enthusiastic people of Dachau would not let the Americans leave.
For the well deserved party afterwards sponsored by the Liedertafel Dachau, the choir was invited for a joyful evening with pork roast and free beer at the Thomashaus. Thereby the Dachau people celebrated an alliance with tradition and a small but important anniversary: The Texas Choral Consort was the tenth choir from the U.S.A. to which the Liedertafel extended an invitation to sing in Dachau. By means of such evenings of friendship, friendly and uncomplicated conversations among themselves came quickly to the members of both choirs.
With the Alpine choir pieces, the Liedertafel presented in return a musical treat which they had prepared beforehand for the Texans. And, at a late hour, Martin Gerer enveloped the piano keys which gave way to a spontaneous German-American friendship-sing, at the end of which all sang the traditional American [sic] song “Should auld acquaintance …” and grasped hands: Once more music proved to be a uniting force for its people.
For original article (bilingual German-English)
Chor Weidling recently provided Klosterneuburg with a real treat when they organized a wonderful concert with the “Texas Chorus Consort,” an excellent mixed choir from Austin, Texas. Much to the gratification of the Weidlinger Choir and its Chairman, Burkhard Maresch, the Stift Kirche was packed to the very last seat.
The local choir, with conductor Professor Helmut Künzel, led through the first part of the concert with their renowned enthusiastic manner, while the guest choir from Texas, with conductor, Dr. Barry Scott Williamson followed with a program that was both beautiful to listen to, and appropriate to the surroundings.
In conclusion, both choirs sang an Austrian “Jodler,” proving that music knows no boundaries, race, or creed.
The audience showed their appreciation of this fantastic matinee with endless applause and standing ovations.
Süddeutsch Zeitung, 18 March 2004 (translated)
BAVARIAN-TEXAN MUSICIANS GATHERING
Texas Choral Consort sings in Mariä Himmelfahrt / Remembrance of concentration-camp victims of Jewish families
Dachau — The have intensively prepared for their Euorpean trip and have long discussed and rehearsed the program. For two days the American choir Texas Choral Consort was the guest of the Dachau Liedertafel. For three Jewish choir members, the Dachau stop had a very personal meaning: They remembered their deceased relatives at the Dachau concentration camp memorial site.
“My entire life I have wanted to come to Dachau,” said teacher Heather Rosen, whose grandparents died in the Dachau concentration camp. “I wanted to see how it is there today, whether people in Dachau still remember what happened there.” Her conversations with the company of the men and women singers of the Liedertafel, who for the tenth time served as hosts of an American choir, had convinced her: “It will not be forgotten. We are all taking care to see to it that such a thing will never happen again.”
Chor director Barry Williamson wants it to be exactly understood how the concert Tuesday evening at Mariä Himmelfahrt “established us.” And only good things were heard that evening, the precise entrances of his men and women singers and the good fortune that he had with his soloists, soprano Kirsten Wilson, mezzo-soprano Lori Erickson, bariton Gil Zilkha, and organist Elaine Dykstra. Lending particular significance to this evening program were several works by American composers lesser-known in this country. “No Bach, no Mozart” took an essential role in the choice of program, explained Willliamson. Nevertheless in the face of this the choir’s passion for these two composers was not watered down. This was very much to the delight of the listeners in Mariä Himmelfahrt. The choir provided fervent and yet restrained interpretations of [the] well known works [Ave verum Corpus and Jesus bleibet meine Freude from Cantata #147].
The Texas Choral Consort enjoyed incessant applause and the traditional “Bavarian-American evening” that followed, which included a short performance by the Liedertafel singers. With much assistance from the neighbors at the tables, a recipe for breakfast rolls (or dumplings) was translated into English. Choir directors Barry Williamson and Peter Frank talked shop. And the eyes of the American guests shone because they are determined to come back to Dachau and sing a concert in the [Dachau] castle.