Wednesday, June 16, 2010

'A thousand pictures fill my head..'

Last night we went to Carnegie Hall, since a couple of friends of my stepdaughter's were in the chorus for a concert staging of Eric Whitacre's manga-inspired musical theatre piece "Paradise Lost: Shadow and Wings."

It was eye-opening. I'd never heard his music before, and it was certainly compelling stuff and melodically infectious. His work with choirs, both live - there were 425 singers on the stage last night - and virtual, is fascinating.

We met up with Che's CCM friends in the huge, excited crowd of performers and relatives outside after the show. It was a great, fun experience for them and it's easy to see why Whitacre's fans idolize him.

He has a new album coming out later in the year and will performing in London on August 2nd, at one of my favorite venues: the Union Chapel in Islington, which, while just a bit smaller than Carnegie Hall, has wonderful acoustics.

The New York Times review compared 'Paradise Lost' to work by Andrew Lloyd Webber, "with hints of Bernstein and Sondheim", but in its scope, structure and melodies, it reminded me a lot of an album that had blown me away when I was a kid, Rick Wakeman's 'Journey To The Centre of the Earth' from 1974. And happily so.

It might be too much to hope, but maybe with the sort of young audiences Whitacre is bringing to his shows, that Rick's work might get a new lease of life?

Here's a real blast from the past, Rick performing in Poland last year (this is an instrumental version of part of 'Journey' - the vocal parts on the original album along with David Hemmings' dramatic narration really brought it to life as a brilliant escapist vision).

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