The Dominican Republic Bruckner Concert

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For a YouTube excerpt, click here.

April 13, 2010

I returned home from Santo Domingo late last night and this is the first opportunity for me to write about the Sunday "Musica Sacra" concert.

The site of the concert, the Iglesia Regina Angelorum is the oldest church in the Western Hemisphere. It was built in the mid 16th century under the sponsorship of King Philip II of Spain.

In its own right, the setting is indeed historic, but what happened on Sunday was historic as well. There were two Dominican premieres - the Ave Maria II and the Te Deum (the Requiem had been performed privately at the church by many of the same artists last December).

The people who came to this concert knew that they had witnessed something extraordinary. The Dominican Republic is a small country and it is difficult to muster together a large instrumental and choral ensemble. In this case, the assembly of artists performed as the "In-Art" Orquesta and the Grupo vocal Matisses.

The conductor, Susana Acra Brache, is a recent advocate of Bruckner's music. Her first performance was the private concert last December. But she has learned well and her commitment to these works were amazingly conveyed to the performers on Sunday and the choir simply sung their hearts out for her. All of this was clearly evident to the audience. It was a glorious feast of sound and the level of commitment provided the audience with much more than they expected. After the concert was over, many audience members just hung around. It was as if they knew they had heard something special and didn't quite know what to do next.

There were a few rough spots as would be expected from a live performance and while arrangements had been made for a touch-up session for the upcoming CD release, it was clear that the singers had given their all and any attempt to recreate the performance would lack the fire and passion that was so clearly exhibited in the concert. This was a remarkable event and I am thankful to have witnessed it.

April 9, 2010

It always amazes me to see what a dedicated person can accomplish. For years, Massimiliano Wax has loved the music of Bruckner and recently, he has done some amazing things about it. Max (as he is known to his acquaintances) lives in the Dominican Republic. In December, 2009, to pay homage to his grandmother, he commissioned a performance of the Bruckner Requiem. The performance, conducted by Susana Acra Brache, was so successful that a follow-up concert was quickly scheduled. On this occasion, the Requiem will be given a command performance and will be augmented with performances of the Ave Maria II and the Te Deum. Judging from the rehearsal yesterday, the performance later today will be superb. Musicologist William Carragan from the US and conductor Nicolas Couton from France are here to attend the event and to add their insights into the music.

The Dominican Republic is a small country (it shares the Island of Hispaniola with Haiti) and the number of musicians capable of performing Bruckner's choral music is limited. But what this group may lack in terms of numbers is easily compensated by their enthusiasm. Today's concert will be recorded and I am sure that the CD & DVD will be an excellent souvenir of this historic event. Pictures of this week's rehearsals are below and more will be added when I return home. Press coverage here has been remarkable. Everyone seems to realize that this is indeed a special event and it certainly shows what a bit of enthusiasm can produce.

Musica Sacra Photos
Musica Sacra Photos