In June, the Grant Park Music Festival in Chicago presented the US premiere of Vine’s Choral Symphony, with Carlos Kalmar conducting the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus.
Scored for SATB choir, organ and orchestra, the Choral Symphony sets four ancient hymns in exotic languages that have not been spoken for thousands of years: ‘Enuma Elish’, an Akkadian creation myth describing the creation of the world from primeval chaos, and three Homeric Hymns to the Earth, the Moon, and the Sun (in Greek ‘Epic Dialect’). The vocal writing in this 26-minute symphony (Vine’s sixth) is homophonic throughout, reflecting the composer’s wish for the work to ‘revel in the power of the human community’.
‘It was the music of Vine that proved the true discovery of the night… inspired and finely crafted… Vine has chosen four texts from dead languages… arresting, strangely beautiful sonorities… obscure, long-lost sounds… [Here is] a composer who truly understands voices and knows how to write music for large chorus. Vine writes in a tonal, melodic style yet wields a rich and subtle palette, ranging from the hushed stealing in of voices at the start of the first section to the resplendent final hymn to the sun. Most striking was the second section where the music for women’s voices alone was rapt and gorgeous.’
Chicago Classical Review (Lawrence A. Johnson), 15 June 2019
‘A contemplation of humanity’s timeless quest for peace and understanding, the work draws upon texts from ancient languages in its search for universal truths. The resplendent choral writing of the opening, the staccato utterances of “Eis Gen Metera Panton” (“To the Earth, Mother of All”), the other worldly yearnings of “Eis Selenen” (“To the Moon”) and the orchestral/choral exultations of “Eis Helion” (“To the Sun”) made for an epic statement on the meanings of life.’
Chicago Tribune (Howard Reich), 16 June 2019