On the evening of December 14th, 2013, the New York Society for Ethical Culture hosted the world premiere of Hampson A. Sisler’s new oratorio, The Second Coming Of Christ, performed by Ensemble Du Monde Chamber Orchestra and the Manhattan Metropolitan Chamber Choir, both under Maestro Marlon Daniel.
This is a remarkable new one-hour-long oratorio in three parts, depicting the prophesies of Christ from the Book of Matthew regarding His intended return to Earth. The detailing of these predictions, as contained in the Christian Bible's Book of Revelation, with the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Armageddon, and the Seven Trumpeting Angels predicting the end of the world, constitutes the libretto.
The monumental work is harmonically and metrically modern, yet not offensively dissonant, and contains a considerable degree of variety with exciting climaxes and highly programmatic sections all along the way. Nowhere does musical interest wane nor orchestral color diminish. The orchestration by Theodore Adams is stimulating and well adorned with percussion effects. The chorus sang well and with matching enthusiasm, and the orchestra played accurately and with expression. Conductor Marlon Daniel, who requested the composition of this monumental work from the world-renowned composer of classical music, Hampson Sisler, guided both-chorus of 28 singers and orchestra of 48 pieces-with precision and aplomb. A standing ovation followed the rendition as the composer, who was present in the audience, stepped forward.
The second work on the program was M. Bruch’s, Fantasie in E-Flat Major, Op. 46 "Scottish," with young violin soloist Gwendolyn Howard. Ms. Howard played expressively and accurately with variety of tone and phrasing quality. Her performance was a bit shy at the beginning, but gradually grew more confident. She also commanded a standing ovation from a sympathetic audience who attended this event despite markedly inclement weather.
A reception following the concert awarded both the composer and the conductor with additional applause. CDs of the new oratorio, commercially available from MSR Classics Recordings via the Internet and recorded recently in Sofia, Bulgaria under the same conductor, were available for purchase and signing.