Symphony produces ‘Carmina Burana’, headed to Duncan

Soloists include soprano Suzanne Ridgen, baritone Michael Nyby, and tenor Benjamin Butterfield.

The Victoria Symphony is bringing the choral drama of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana to the stage of the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Saturday, March 4 starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Victoria Children’s Choir will join the Victoria Choral Society for this presentation.

Soloists include soprano Suzanne Ridgen, baritone Michael Nyby, and tenor Benjamin Butterfield.

Orff composed Carmina Burana in the unusual atmosphere of 1935-36, taking secular medieval poems and turning them into dynamic choruses. The first and last movements of the piece are entitled ‘Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi’ (Fortune, Empress of the World) and start with the famous ‘O Fortuna’.

Not all medieval writing was saintly stuff, apparently.

According to the Cowichan Symphony Society’s Ted Rhodes, in Bavaria in the year 1803 a strange manuscript was discovered which was a collection of varied works in Latin, Middle-High German and Old French. It was written by wandering students and artists, dating from the 12th and 13th centuries. After they were published, the works were a shock to the scholars of the time, because they were funny, vulgar, angry, lustful and fiercely resentful of the established order of things, showing a strong fatalistic belief in the wheel of destiny.

This unique set of works landed in the hands of composer Orff, who had developed a brilliant course of instruction for children, combining music and movement.

While the rise to power of the Nazi movement curtailed the adoption of his method, Rhodes says, Orff began to see a way to use his combination of music and movement for adults.

In Carmina Burana, he offers a wide range of expression, Rhodes said. Thus, his Carmina Burana is made up of songs set in the most simple harmonies — with his own new and unique style of orchestration, featuring a broad range of instruments.

Maestra Tania Miller will conduct the Victoria Symphony Orchestra for this performance, and the evening will also include a performance of Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

Tickets are on sale at the Cowichan Ticket Centre. Phone 250-748-7529, or go online to ctcentre.bc.ca. Prices are $42 for adults, $26, children and students get in for $5. Adult groups of 10 or more are $25 per ticket.

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