Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Will choral music always be tonal?
I am a huge fan of the late Stravinsky choral works:
Requiem Canticles, Canticum Sacrum, Sermon, Narrative and a Prayer, The Dove Descending (Anthem), Babel, and Introitus. (Less fond of The Flood and Threni and those hideous late pieces of Schoenberg.) It seems these works rarely get performed. I remember MTT doing Requiem Canticles in LA in the 80s. It was peculiar to see the string section sitting around with not a hell of a lot to do. It never occurred to me as I got to love that music that it might not be gratifying for the orchestra to play. His cutaway scores seemed to create an orchestration that fostered a roomful of individuals rather than an orchestra.
What I wonder is whether choruses today and in the future will avoid masterpieces like Ligeti's Requiem, or his Lux Aeterna, the Webern cantatas, or the late Stravinsky choral music, just because it's too hard for singers to hear.
What choruses really seem to want is the warm and fuzzy music of Randall Thompson and the ilk; the new age tonality served up by Morton Lauridsen. Stuff they can HEAR. Most choruses in the world are community choruses and they sing what they are able to. Professional choruses are rare in the US. We live with one in LA (LA Master Chorale) and they are supportive of [some] new music.I think the government supported European choruses of the 50s and 60s are long gone. I know that Erik Erikson and his group are famous for being the Kronos of the choral world. But besides them, will choruses of the future perform non-tonal music? Would you compose a large scale "atonal" work at this point in time?