Review by Edward Kliszus
Artistic Director and Conductor Ted Sperling began tonight’s world premiere of January 13, 2021 by introducing MasterVoices presentation of Chapter I of 4 performances entitled Flight, with music and lyrics by Adam Guettel, additional lyrics by Ellen Fitzhugh, and orchestrations by Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence. This first installment is the beginning of an examination of the nature of religious faith during these secular times, particularly poignant with the crushing effects of the international Covid-19 virus that has all but shut down live music performances and theater.
This amalgamation of 19th century protestant hymnody and Greek myths begins with its musical exploration of the legend of Icarus, son of Daedalus (creator of the Labryinth) who flew too close to the sun with wings of wax and feathers. Icarus’ struggles to reconcile his father’s dominance only to plunge to his oceanic demise is characterized through this venue with a rich musical mixture of Rhythm and Blues, gospel, and classical venues supplemented by musical theater visual art. Like opera or film, this is a true multi-media experience re-imagined for the virtual stage.
The Fall of Icarus – Marc Chagall
This fabulous multi-media venue was beautifully choreographed, recorded and filmed with artists remotely, presenting through song and theater and the magic of film the stories of Prometheus, Icarus and more, a segment entitled Migratory V, Pegasus, and Jesus, The Mighty Conqueror. Masterfully recorded and mixed soundtracks were best experienced and appreciated using high quality headphones or stereo system. The songs were clever, original, fresh, chromatically complex, and masterfully performed, effectively telling a story while engaging, touching, and moving the listening participant. Performers and musical accompaniment were outstanding…world class musicians all.
Comments from YouTube listeners included “love love LOVE this”, “THIS IS INCREDIBLE”, “Take 6 = Heaven”, “in the hands of the masters”, “this is extraordinary, beautiful and uplifting” “I’ve been singing this all day”, “Love Take 6”, “chilz”, “bless”, “Best thing ever”, “Bravo all”, “I’m watching again!”.
Featuring soloists from pop, operatic, and theatrical landscapes, tonight’s program opened with duo pianists Anderson & Roe performing Prometheus. Joshua Henry sang Saturn Returns: The Flight, then Mykal Kilgore as Icarus, Norm Lewis as Daedalus, and Migratory V featuring Julia Bullock, Renée Fleming, and Kelli O’Hara. Pegasus featured Jose Llana as Bellerophon, Capathia Jenkins as Pegasus, Elizabeth Stanley as Gadfly, with a rousing finale by Take 6 (Claude McKnight, Mark Kibble, Joel Kibble, Dave Thomas, Alvin Chea and Khristian Dentley) and company performing Jesus, the Mighty Conqueror. Encore, encore!
Major contributions were made by directors Greg Anderson, Sammi Cannold, Lear deBessonet, Khristian Dentley and Ted Sperling; visual artists Yazmany Arboleda, Cloud Chatanda, Steven Kellogg, Lucy Mackinnon, and Danny Mefford; arrangers Greg Anderson and Mark Kibble; lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh; and orchestrators Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence.
Be sure to tune into the three subsequent chapters, streaming on February 24, April 14, and May 26 featuring the MasterVoices chorus; soloists Daniel Breaker, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Joshua Henry, Cheyenne Jackson, and Nicholas Phan; actor John Lithgow; directors Trip Cullman, Doug Fitch, Anne Kauffman, and Ted Sperling; visual artist Manik Choksi; lyricist Ellen Fitzhugh; and orchestrators Don Sebesky and Jamie Lawrence, with additional artists to be announced.
Use your stereo system or headphones for full aural and emotional submersion while enjoying creative and thoughtfully crafted visual images. The show was uplifting, inspirational, comforting, and a poignant reminder of the human spirit and importance of art to express hope, faith and humanity during these or any other times.
You can also attend private screening events at 6 pm on the eve of each of the Public Premiere release dates, hosted by Ted Sperling and the Master Voices Gala Committee. For information click here, reserve seats here, or go to mastervoices.org. Each event includes:
- a live Q & A with the artists
- an online auction
- a virtual cocktail session with the artists
For more information go to mastervoices.org or contact MasterVoices at 1441 Broadway Suite 3024, New York, NY 10018| 646.202.9623.
Runtime was about 28 minutes.