In perhaps one of the most beautiful experiences ever orchestrated by the UVU fine arts department, 300 chorus members, ballet dancers and musicians crowded on the stage of the Covey Fine Arts Center to perform “Carmina Burana.”
On Friday night, Nov. 4, the hall was filled with anxious attendees waiting for a unique performance. “Carmina Burana,” which consists of Medieval poems performed by an orchestra and chorus and accompanied by ballet dancers, is the biggest, most ambitious undertaking the fine arts department has ever attempted. The sheer size of the group of performers only hints at the magnitude of the piece.
The chorus was made up of the UVU Masterworks Chorale, as well as members of the Timpanogos High School Chamber Singers, Orem High School Chamber Singers and Lone Peak High School Chamber Choir. The musicians consisted of the UVU Symphony Orchestra and the ballet dancers were members of the Utah Regional Ballet.
As the curtain rose and the choir began to sing “O Fortuna,” easily the most recognizable piece of the evening, the audience hushed as waves of chills washed over them. The ballet dancers, dressed in bright red, yellow and orange, moved fluidly, emphasizing the power of the chorus. They moved as if compelled by something grander than themselves. Each movement was deliberate, instinctive and natural. Their figures casted beautiful shadows upon the walls as the the chorus sang as one, their voices echoing off the same walls.
Dr. Reed Criddle, the conductor and main instigator behind the production, stood in front of his artists, his back to the dancers, feet shoulder-width apart. He guided both the chorus and orchestra through the intricacies of the music, and they, in turn, reacting to even his subtlest direction. While Criddle was initially worried about fitting such a large cast on the stage, it lent to an intimate performance, one that resonated with each audience member.
The performers navigated their way through the three main themes of “Carmina Burana’s” 25 movements with a singularity of mind. Beginning with the fickle nature of fate, the theme switched to springtime and renewal. The mood then changed to an even more boisterous tone as the section entitled “In the Tavern” began. Both happiness and despair could be felt in both the singers and the dancers. In the next section, “The Court of Love,” the different aspects of love were put on display, from playful flirtation to deep intimacy. The performance concluded with reverting back to “O Fortuna,” emphasizing man’s inability to escape the wheel of fate.
The performance also featured three soloist singers, namely baritone Christopher Holmes, tenor Brian Stucki and soprano Katherine Henly. Each are professional singers trained in opera. Their added talents helped elevate the performance to a new level. Though each was amazing in his or her own right, it was Katherine Henly whose voice stayed with the audience. She sang with such beauty and emotion that though her words were foreign, there was no doubt as to their meaning.
At the conclusion of the performance, the audience gave a standing ovation to the artists. Even though the hall was filled with the sound of applause, it still didn’t seem enough to award such a stunning performance. “Carmina Burana” was beautiful and elegant. Being the most ambitious production ever attempted by UVU, it’s obvious the fine arts department, under the driving force of Dr. Reed Criddle, is more than ready to accomplish even greater tasks.
By Kelly Cannon – Life Editor