An experience of sonic excellence: New Ears respond to The Creation

New Ears reviewer Kristina Schippel attended Haydn’s Creation at Koerner Hall on April 27, 2016. Here’s what she thought:

I enjoyed watching the procession of a hundred-plus choristers file onto the stage, in such a number that they had to be stacked, well not literally, but about 40 choristers stood on the first balcony, behind the main stage. It was very beneficial to have the program with the lyrics for reference because even though it was in English when sung operatically it can be almost indecipherable at times. I was also more engaged being able to follow along with the words, I’m more spiritual than religious and I haven’t read anything from the Bible at length, but I do enjoy creation stories, from all cultures.

One thing I do want to criticize is the lighting, as I felt that the hall was still too brightly lit during the performance, however, this I suspect could be so patrons could read their programs. It definitely would have been more impactful to play with the lighting considering in the beginning of the piece where I’m supposed to believe that there was nothing but darkness before God said “let there be light.” The choir did pick up the slack, engulfing the space in an auditory tsunami that peaked when there was said light.

As much as I can’t deny the impact of almost a hundred voices singing together in harmony, my favourite parts of the performance was when the soloist, who sang the part of the angel Raphael, brought some levity to the piece. The baritone went to the bottom of his range as he dragged out the word “worm” to the audiences’ delight as well as playfully describing some of the less seemly of God’s creations.

Whether you understand all the elements of classical music I appreciated the way I felt reflecting on my own memories and experiences in nature. Eventually the words faded to the background and I listened to the instrumentals and the subtle and not so subtle shifts in tone, volume, rhythm and so on. The pastoral application of the flute to describe the fluttering, “cheerful host of birds,” with “their glittering plumes” versus the booming sounds associated with the creation of mountains and boisterous seas, for example.

At one point I began to imagine myself seated in the hull of Noah’s Ark instead of Koerner Hall with its beautiful wood-paneled balconies and ceiling and how I was being prepared for a world of such beauty and diversity, listening to the music. Haydn’s Creation was an experience of sonic excellence combining vocal soloists, choir and orchestra and at the same time a good opportunity to reflect on the natural beauty we’ve been afforded and should not take for granted.

Kristina Schippel is a massage therapy student. She loves cycle touring and dogs, and since she doesn’t have a cottage you can often find her hiking by the lake trails of the Scarborough bluffs where she lives.  Kristy Schippel