Performed by Seaglass Chorale
Under The Direction of Jean Strazdes
Ola Gjeilo, Music
Peter Ralston, Photography
March 20, 2016
A Concert To Soothe The Soul
by Bobby Franklin
In 2015 I attended a performance of this work by the Seaglass Performing Arts in a church in Saco, Maine. It was done beautifully and I left that night feeling filled with peace. I really couldn’t imagine how they could do a better job with it.
Well, I returned to see the group again perform this work at the lovely Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine, and they have taken their performance to an even higher level. They were simply outstanding.
Under the direction of Jean Strazdes the chorale was near perfect. The string musicians, many of whom were from the Portland Symphony Orchestra were a delight with Kim Karchenes on piano.
The music, Sunrise Mass, composed by Ola Gjeilo, will be new to most people but is soothing and joyful. Its world premiere took place in 2008 in Oslo. According to the program, Gjeilo’s intent and story of his Mass are expressed through the way in which the music comes across sonically. The text comes from the Ordinary of the Mass: Kyrie – The Sphere; Gloria – Sunrise; Credo – The City; Sanctus & Angus Dei – Identity and the Ground.
During the concert, photographs of the MaineCoast by Peter Ralston were projected on a large screen above the singers and were in perfect sync with the music. Media artist Stephanie Sanders did a remarkable job placing the screen so audience members were able to see the performers and the photos at the same time. The voices, music, and visuals all blended together to convey a warmth and peacefulness that did indeed lead the listeners into a state of reflection and meditation.
Peter Ralston’s photos alone would be enough to inspire and calm,
Peter Ralston’s photos alone would be enough to inspire and calm,but when paired with the music of Gjeilo they are brought to life. Ms Sanders added motion to the still images which gave the feeling of having the audience step into the photographs. At times I found myself in a state of mind where I had let go of any negative feelings about life and was taken to a place of calm. It was truly magical.
Seaglass Performing Arts was founded in 1993 by Artistic Director Jean Strazdes, the Seaglass Chorale is a non-auditioned adult choral group of 50-60 voices and represents some 20 southern Maine communities. They regularly perform throughout the area with their accompanist, Kimberly Karchenes. They have also performed in Europe with trips to Rome, Venice, Innsbruck, and Budapest. Fortunately, they always return home.
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Peter Ralston’s photography has appeared in over 50 magazines. His work is regularly exhibited in galleries here and abroad. Recently, his work was added to the permanent collection of the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. You can learn more about Mr. Ralston by going to www.ralstongallery.com
Next up for the Seaglass Chorale will be Pops Concert: It’s Showtime! This concert will feature music from Broadway musicals past and present. This performance will take place in May and is sure to be a fun evening. Check the Seaglass website for further information. You will not be disappointed.