Daniel Suk, Artistic Director and Conductor of the Dream Orchestra along with two choirs and four opera soloists honored the anniversary of the tragic assassination of the great Dr. Martin Luther King, this past Friday, April 4th with a beautifully performed "Requiem" - Mozart's final masterwork. The sold out community wide event took place at the First Congregation Church in Los Angeles. This imposing and beautiful church also contains one of the largest church organs on the West Coast.
Comprised of professional musicians from different cultures and backgrounds, The Dream Orchestra founded by Daniel Suk in 2011, frequently gives classical music concerts in various venues in the greater Los Angeles area. Maestro Suk's programing also provides performance opportunities for young and developing talent, along with mature performers.
An accomplished musician, Daniel Suk, an American of Korean descent, opened the evening's memorial concert by eloquently sharing with the audience how Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and words inspired him to have courage and faith, in the face of adversity and rejection.The evening continued with a reading of an excerpt from the immortal 1963 “I have a Dream” speech by Dr. King, presented by Teryne Chatman. Chatman wisely avoided imitating the great Dr. King’s vocal style, yet presenting Dr. King's words with sincerity and dramatic impact.
Following this well received oration, over 70 musicians and singers assembled on the dais of the Church to perform Mozart’s exquisite “Requiem.” The Dream Orchestra assembled on the floor below the dias, as the combined choruses of the LA County of Performing Arts High School Choir (LACHSA) the Opera Chorus of Los Angeles, along with the four Soloists of the quartet, took their places.
Daniel Suk's fiery presence and elegant conducting of Mozart's "Requiem" kept the combined forces of orchestra, choir and quartet dramatically synchronized. This was quite a feat, due to the heavy echo like acoustics in the First Congregation's cathedral like space.
The LACHSA Choir comprised of of young high school singers, were excellently prepared by their choral master, John St. Marie, particularly the soprano section. The young singers were fortified by the vocal heft of mature singers of the Opera Chorus of Los Angeles who made a splendid debut that evening. The combined choirs sang Mozart's dramatic and lyrical music with impassioned feeling and good Latin diction, despite the problematic acoustics which tended to disperse their sound. Maestro Suk’s tempos never dragged or rushed, keeping the dramatic tension in the music well- balanced. The Dream Orchestra's performance while excellent throughout, was unevenly heard due to the problematic acoustics of the space.
Sometimes these issuess can be corrected with a portable acoustical shell placed behind the performers, or light microphone boosting. Not having these corrections proved to be the only defect in an otherwise excellent concert.
The four young opera soloists in the quartet, three of whom regularly perform with the LA Opera blended together with beauty of tone and well-projected diction. Patrick Blackwell, singing the Bass part is a seasoned professional opera soloist who brought a focused and robust sound which blended well with the lyrical strength of Vladimir Dmitruk's outstanding tenor voice.
Dmitruck, a young tenor from Belarus currently singing with the LA Opera, was the only soloist whose voice was so beautifully focused that it cut through the cavernous space of the First Congregation Church.
The exciting rising star from Mexico, mezzo-soprano Cassandra Zoe Velasco, the youngest member of the LA Opera, singing in her supportive musical role, provided a gorgeous and vibrant phrasing with first class singing that also carried easily into the hall.
Golda Berkman, just 15 years old, was the soprano in the quartet. Tall, attractive and elegantly dressed, the young singer was poised and well prepared in her music. She was most effective in the later sections of the Requiem, where her middle voice showed a surprising degree of mature sound.
The orchestra, quartet and chorus were especially appealing in the softer, more lyrical sections which were better balanced. In the louder, forte passages, particularly the fugue sections that require great clarity in the different choral parts, both choir and orchestra were unable to overcome the acoustical blur of the space, despite their best efforts.
At the conclusion of this heartfelt performance of Mozart's final masterwork, the audience responded with warm applause. The evening's program concluded with a moving performance of the “The Lord’s Prayer” the well known song by Albert Hay Malotte, performed by the choirs, soloists and orchestra.
Turning to the audience to receive the final applause, Daniel Suk led everyone in the song again. The audience members - many with good voices - sang this emotional and difficult music quite well, along with the accompaniment of the massive sound of the Church's loft Organ, played by Minh Nguyen.
Following the evening's performance, everyone attending was treated to a catered reception of award winning deserts and coffee from the URTH Cafe (the sponsor for the event), in the Church's lovely courtyard.
For more information about the next Dream Orchestra event or concert visit: www.dreamorchestra.org