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Payson Civic Chorale to perform in Carnegie Hall

May 03, 2019 10:11AM

Conductor David C. Dahlquist has chosen two humanitarian choral works with which to make his Carnegie Hall conducting debut.

On Tuesday, May 28, he will direct the Payson Civic Chorale, which he founded in 1981, in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, an anthem by British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, and Randall Thompson’s choral cycle to texts by Thomas Jefferson, The Testament of Freedom. It will be only the fourth time the Vaughan Williams work has been performed in Carnegie Hall, and the first in 60 years.

The choir will also include members of Jacksonville Chapel Choir of Lincoln Park, New Jersey; the Brooklyn Community Chorus; and the Central Regional High School Choir of Bayville, New Jersey. The 8 pm performance, part of MidAmerica Productions’ 36th concert season, will be accompanied by the New England Symphonic Ensemble.

“Many of the present Chorale members experienced Carnegie Hall and New York City in 2006 when we performed under the direction of John Rutter,” says Mr. Dahlquist. “I chose not to perform that time so as to focus my attention on Dr. Rutter’s rehearsing and conducting techniques. I never imagined that after a career of 44 years as a music teacher and choral director, the invitation would be extended to me to step on stage at Carnegie Hall and direct. It feels like a culmination to, and validation of, a life’s work, for which I shall ever be grateful.”

The two works he will conduct were composed two decades apart, one just after the first World War, the other at the height of the second.

Composed in 1923, Vaughan Williams’ Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,with a text drawn from Ecclesiasticus 44 in the King James Bible, contrasts the tribute paid to famous people of accomplishment with those whose lives may have been anonymous, but nonetheless contributed to the welfare of mankind and thus are as deserving of memorial. The Testament of Freedom, asetting of four passages from the writings of Thomas Jefferson, was composed in 1943 to commemorate the bicentennial of his birth. Despite, or perhaps because of, its wartime origins, it sings eloquently of the triumph of the democratic ideal.