Master Chorale Celebrates 50th Anniversary
By Steven Lieberman
The Los Angeles Master Chorale, a cultural icon heralded around the globe for its exceptional artistry, pulled out the stops for their 50th anniversary weekend celebration.
The program featured two performances of Bach’s B Minor Mass - the choral masterpiece that founding music director Roger Wagner inaugurated in 1965 at the just-opened Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Chorale’s home for 37 years.
This time, Walt Disney Concert Hall, the residence of the Master Chorale since 2003, was the venue where the composition – considered one of the greatest works in the choral repertoire - was performed and led by musical director Grant Gershon.
Gershon felt euphoria after the concert and paid homage to Wagner and the current chorus members.
“This is where it all started for the LA Master Chorale,” he said. “To be able to conduct Bach’s masterpiece with the Chorale almost 49 years to the day after Roger Wagner did at the choir’s inaugural concert is simply amazing. It is an honor to be part of this incredible legacy.
“Bach is swirling through my brain…I am living a dream and I’m beyond words as to how grateful I am for all the musicians that I’m surrounded by, and for the incredible gifts they shared.”
The performance featured a musical force of 115 singers with a full symphonic orchestra and featured 12 capable members of the Chorale to take on the solo parts, which included soprano Elissa Johnston, Gershon’s wife.
Gershon, known for his penchant for more intimate-type performances, temporarily set this aside to present a Bach concert designed to “blow the roof off of Disney Hall” and honor their grand anniversary occasion.
One Chorale member had this to say about Gershon.
“You always get to the heart and soul of the music and bring out the best in your musicians.”
And that he did. From Kyrie to Dona nobis pacem, the Chorale sounded flawless in the acoustically-sound Disney Hall.
The only concern was the intermission that was added to the program at the last minute. Bach’s incomparable masterpiece was meant to be played without pause and to have continuous flow from beginning to end.
Other than that, the audience went away feeling satisfied, fulfilled, and aroused with joy.
For information about the next LAMC performance, go to: