Last weekend New York City’s famed Ghostlight Choir took on a program of epically macabre proportions.
All about death, the afterlife, requiems and mourning, the evening was an opportunity for reflection, meditation, deep listening and boisterous post-concert wine church drinking. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let us first start out with the composers on the program. Which one of them is not like the others?:
If you said Eric Whitacre, you win all the points! Yes, Eric Whitacre is the only one of these chaps to be both composer and male model, and indeed it sometimes seems as if his music is posing for the camera.
Ligeti’s Lux Aeterna, on the other hand, is classical high fashion. And it poses for no one. Requiring the repeated brutal physical abuse of lots of tuning forks over the course of the piece, Ghostlight performed and nailed what may have been the most daunting work ever undertaken by the group. If you ever have a chance, you might consider wandering into a dark forest with a pair of headphones, eating some wild mushrooms, and having yourself a night with this piece.
The concerts also marked a major coming-of-age seminal rite of passage life cornerstone moment for the ensemble: it was their first time selling advance tickets to their concerts online. The experiment was a success for them; Ghostlight sold more tickets than they usually do, and some who bought tickets didn’t even show up, resulting in increased revenue (if decreased spiritual introspection for the no-shows). The tears observed at the finale of the concert were a result of genuine musical evocation of feelings and memories of loss, although—and this is purely anecdotal—the people who bought tickets online and saved $5 were seen to be crying slightly less intensely.
Until the next event! Also look for a post soon on my Ligeti-in-dark-woods experience.