Classically Trained: A 10 for the Ninth

September 13, 2010|By Bradley Zint
  • Conductor Wesley Martin leads the Costa Mesa-based All-American Boys Chorus in an open rehearsal on Saturday afternoon. The day was a recruiting event for new members to join the choir, which travels around the U.S. and the world.
Conductor Wesley Martin leads the Costa Mesa-based All-American… (Bradley Zint, Daily…)

IRVINE — A performance of the Ninth Symphony is always full of eagerness.

When is that massive choir in the back going to sing? When do the soloists come out? Is the third movement over?

Big questions, to be sure. But then, after some 45 minutes of waiting, it all happens.

And it's never a disappointment.

The Pacific Symphony's performance at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater of Ludwig Van Beethoven's magnum opus Saturday was as exciting and beautifully executed as I've ever heard live.

Guest conductor Robert Moody — of North Carolina's Winston-Salem Symphony and the Portland (Maine) Symphony Orchestra — delivered a rousing interpretation of the Ninth that excited and delighted the thousands of attendees. They leapt to their feet at the concert's conclusion.

Beethoven's work represents the best of early 19th century Western music, if not the best of all Western music ever. All four movements of the Ninth do that, despite the epic scope of the finale that can seemingly drown all the greatness preceding it.


Moody said Beethoven's work evokes the best of the human spirit. It's hard to disagree when the 186-year-old symphony is played so well and with such precision, gusto and fervor.

The Americana first half was fitting for Sept. 11, especially Samuel Barber's "Adagio for Strings," though I wished images of that day could've been projected on the amphitheater's screens alongside the performance. I feel it would've made the performance even more powerful with some visual aids.

Still, plaudits go to Moody for leading the orchestra and its accompanying choral army toward a grand evening and wonderful conclusion of the summer season.

A choir sample

The Costa Mesa-based All-American Boys Chorus, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, conducted an open rehearsal earlier that day at the Orange County Fairgrounds. They were looking for new members.

The singers, who range in age from about 8 to 14, were likely the first choir in the whole county to begin working out the intricacies of "Jingle Bells."

The 100-some boys were jingling all the way with great rehearsal discipline under the auspices of conductor Wesley Martin, an Australia native who's led the group since 2002.

When he said, "Sit up and don't talk," they did. A poster proclaiming "We are only as good as our discipline" loomed overhead in the rehearsal room. Martin's directions came quickly and concisely.

"I don't want to hear an ugly diphthong."

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