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Tanner Gift of Music stretches soul

The four works presented during the 2000 Tanner Gift of Music Nov. 3-4 offered a musical picture frame on the life of the Savior that stretched the soul, ranging from feelings of the sublime to the exultant.

From the opening selection of Beethoven's "Hallelujah" from Christ on the Mount of Olives — where voice after voice proclaimed "His grace and glory" — to the triumphant climax of Vaughan Williams' "Hodie," the performances by the Utah Symphony and Tabernacle Choir told the Christmas story with drama and tenderness.

The two evening performances were presented to packed houses in the famed Tabernacle on Temple Square. They were recorded by PBS to be rebroadcast nationally and internationally prior to Christmas 2001.

The performances were offered as a musical gift to the community to those who might otherwise not be able to attend, said Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve who serves as chairman of the Tanner Gift of Music committee.

"This musical gift to the community is offered to uplift and unify," he said.

The concert was sponsored by contributions from Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner and the O.C. Tanner Co. For the late Obert Tanner, beauty was the supreme value in life, and music, above all other arts, was supreme among all the expressions of beauty. The 2000 Tanner Gift of Music was the 10th performance since the first program in 1983. Since then, most performances by the Utah Symphony and Tabernacle Choir have generally occurred every other year.

Following the performance of Beethoven's "Hallelujah," the Tabernacle Choir performed Rachmaninoff's "Vespers" which is considered to be among the great achievements of 20th century sacred music. The music, written for unaccompanied voices, allowed the choir to showcase its musicianship in the subtle coloring of voices and rich harmonies. The choir was directed by Craig Jessop, conductor of the Tabernacle Choir.

The choir and symphony then joined in the performance of "Shepherds' Chorus and Dances" from "Amahl and the Night Visitors" by Menotti. The opera has become a popular Christmas tradition for many since it was first performed on Christmas Eve 1951.

Following intermission, the concert resumed with an hourlong performance of "Hodie," a cantata by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The music was written in 1953 for large orchestra, chorus and three soloists. Singing the soloist roles were Henriette Schellenberg, soprano; Robert Breault, tenor; and Robert Honeysucker, baritone. The cantata presented a stirring composite of the Christmas celebration using narrations drawn from the Gospels, interspersed with four descriptive pieces. Keith Lockhart, music director of the Utah Symphony, conducted.

The approximately 48-voice International Children's Choir, directed by Kathy Sorensen, accompanied the choir and symphony.

email: shaun@desnews.com

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