Lakeview Orchestra, Vox 3 team up for a strong and dramatic Mozart Requiem

Wed Apr 09, 2014 at 1:33 pm

By Lawrence A. Johnson

Gregory Hughes conducted the Lakeview Orchestra in Mozart's Requiem Tuesday night.
Gregory Hughes conducted the Lakeview Orchestra in Mozart’s Requiem Tuesday night.

When you have one of the world’s finest orchestras and one of the top American opera companies both situated in downtown Chicago, local music coverage is bound to be a bit Loop-centric.

Yet there are also innumerable ensembles serving their local communities in the city and in the suburbs and doing fine work beneath the radar.

One such group is the Lakeview Orchestra, which teamed up with Vox 3 Collective Tuesday night to offer a dramatic reading of Mozart’s Requiem. The mass will be repeated Friday at the Chicago Temple downtown and it is well worth taking the time to get acquainted with both of these groups.

The Lakeview Orchestra is a new group, founded just last year by young conductor Gregory Hughes. While it is a community orchestra and lacks the tonal sheen and polish of a seasoned top-grade ensemble, the playing Tuesday was fully committed and energetic under Hughes’ direction. Add powerful choral singing by the expanded Vox 3 Collective and Tuesday night’s performance at the Nettlehorst School in Lakeview delivered a surprisingly strong and compelling performance.

The auditorium acoustic was about what one would expect, with a dry and decidedly edgy sound. Yet so involving was the Mozart performance by the assembled forces under Hughes that one was carried away by the music.

Even allowing for the friends-and-relatives factor, it was also wonderful to see a predominantly young audience turn out for a neighborhood classical concert, as well as listen with rapt attention and break into genuinely enthusiastic applause at the end.

A Wheaton College Conservatory graduate who studied under John Nelson and Kirk Trevor, Hughes built on the impressive leadership he showed in Vox 3’s performance of Carl Nielsen’s Maskarade in January.

Tempos were astutely judged by Hughes, and balances between orchestra, chorus and soloists consistently well handled, a fitfully over-rambunctious timpani apart. When one of the soloists became separated from the orchestra, Hughes turned and slowed the orchestra down deftly until the singer got back on track.

The four singers (soprano Jenny Schuler, mezzo Beena David, tenor Zachary Vanderburg and baritone Carl Frank were solid in their opportunities, with Schuler and Frank delivering the best solo work Tuesday night.

Words were not always ideally clear from the Vox 3 Collective but the chorus sang with passion and impressive refinement, delivering the quiet spiritual moments sensitively and bringing daunting impact to Mozart’s big dramatic moments.

There have likely not been many performances of the Mozart Requiem that were preceded by a fizzy Latin work with live dancers.

Yet that kind of innovative and quirkily eclectic cross-genre presentation is the kind of event Hughes likes to do with his orchestra. The young conductor led a lively performance of Arturo Marquez’s Danzon No. 2 bringing out the moody languor as well as the sassy rhythmic vivacity. Performing above the orchestra on the stage, a quintet of dancers (Cyrus Bridwel, Grecia Delgado, Hannah Rosenfeld, Shea Smith and Adson Zocca) brought grace and energy to Ted Seymour’s choreography.

The Mozart Requiem will be repeated 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Chicago Temple, 77 W. Washingon. The Marquez will be replaced by Schubert’s Stabat Mater, two Bruckner motets and the “Esterhazy” Te Deum by Johann Michael Haydn.;

Posted in Performances

One Response to “Lakeview Orchestra, Vox 3 team up for a strong and dramatic Mozart Requiem”

  1. Posted Apr 11, 2014 at 11:42 am by Leslie Guiden

    BRAVO! It’s wonderful to read such a rave review about a group of fine singers of which one of them is a co-worker of mine, Kevin Denny. Although I’ve never studied music, I have developed an appreciation for it. Congrats to the performers, and may they have a wonderful performance tonight as well.

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