Digging through the choral library can be a lot of work but you can also discover some treasures hidden within long-forgotten folders of documents. This program from the winter 1972 program is a gem. The artwork on the front is so groovy (pardon the vernacular) and shows a creative side of OSC that many of us didn’t realize existed.
You’re probably wondering if the concert looked like a revival of the musical “Hair” or if the chorus was staging productions of “Pippin” or “Grease” which debuted on Broadway that year. In all likelihood (and we don’t have any sources who were there to verify) it was very similar to how it is now. All of the ladies in matching outfits and the gentlemen in tuxedos (maybe leisure suits?) singing classical masterworks. The concert was held at First Christian Church in Omaha. The church had just been built in 1963 and was on the outskirts of town at 66th and Dodge (can you imagine Omaha ending at 66th Street?!).
Although it is a little tough to pick out on the design without seeing it in person, that concert’s program included Cherubini’s “Mass in C Minor” and Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb.” For those unfamiliar with these pieces, here is some background summarized from the notes in the program.
Maria Luigi Carlo Zenobio Salvatore Cherubini (that’s a mouthful) was born on Sept. 14, 1760 in Florence. He began musical training at 6 years old and wrote his first acknowledged piece, “Mass in D,” when he was 13 years old. At 17 years old, he went to study with opera composer Sarti in Venice. The “Mass in C Minor” is in a polyphonic style where the singers are supported by the organ and there are no solo voices. The mood of the piece is of confident faith even through dramatic movements like “Dies Ire.” However, faith always triumphs.
Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” is based on a poem of the same name by Christopher Smart. Smart is said to have been deeply religious but with a strange and unbalanced mind (yikes!). The poem was written while in an asylum and is chaotic with moments of genius. The main theme of the poem and Cantata is the worship of God, by all created beings and things, each in its own way. The Cantata is broken into 10 sections, each illustrating various ways to rejoice in God.
So, how different was it 41 years ago? Very – from popular music, fashion, and car styles to political landscapes and major events. One thing is the same, though, the OSC was making great music!