Scorching “Dies irae” blazes at Powell Hall (St. Louis)

February 21, 2009

Double Happiness Symbol for Marriage

Double Happiness Symbol for Marriage

Last Saturday was Valentine’s Day. I got my husband a box of his favorite chocolates, and he got me tickets to the St. Louis Symphony for that evening.

I wanted to see this concert, Verdi’s Requiem, and it was coincidence that it was on Valentine’s Day. Classical music reviewer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ms. Sarah Bryan Miller, got it right when she wrote, “This weekend the St. Louis Symphony was the hottest ticket in town.”

And, “… Music director David Robertson conducted the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, and a quartet of singers headed by soprano Christine Brewer.”

Chris is a hometown girl, more or less, living in Lebanon, Illinois, about a half-hour from downtown St. Louis. She attended McKendree College in Lebanon, performed frequently early in her career with Opera Theater St. Louis, and to make a long story short of her brilliantly progressing career, she made her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera in 2003 and performs all over the world. It’s real treat for her hometown fans, friends and family when she performs locally. Saturday’s performance was sold out and standing room only.

I’ve followed her career locally since the mid-80s, when I heard her sing at a mutual friend’s 30th birthday party in Shaw Park in Clayton, Missouri. I had heard of her, but not heard her. I had fairly limited knowledge of opera at the time, and being in the presence of her beautiful performance that day made me a fan, as I listened to her sing “Mira,” a song from the musical Carnival (by Bob Merrill) and watched her standing simply in the center of a crowd of friends in a park. Today she’s a grammy winning, internationally acclaimed soloist.

Christine Brewer, soprano

Christine Brewer, soprano

I’ve gotten to know her a bit through the mutual friend, and of course, I’ve talked a lot about her to my mother, and as a surprise, my husband got three tickets to last week’s concert, and we invited my mom to go with us.

In 2007 the BBC Music Critics were polled on the 20 greatest sopranos of all time, and Christine Brewer was one of them, and one of only three currently performing. See the full list of names (and the experts who selected them) below. 

Here is a photo of Chris signing a CD for my mom after the concert.

Christine Brewer on Feb. 14, 2009, Powell Hall

Christine Brewer on Feb. 14, 2009, Powell Hall

Here is a link to Sarah Bryan Miller’s review.

Here is a link to Christine Brewer’s Web site.

The BBC Music Magazine 20 Greatest Sopranos of all time are:
1. Maria Callas [1923-1977]
2. Joan Sutherland [b1926]
3. Victoria De Los Angeles [1923-2005]
4. Leontyne Price [b1927]
5. Birgit Nilsson [1918-2005]
6. Montserrat Caballé [b1933]
7. Lucia Popp [1939-1993]
8. Margaret Price [b1941]
9. Kirsten Flagstad [1895-1962]
10. Emma Kirkby [b1949]
11. Elisabeth Schwarzkopf [1915-2006]
12. Regine Crespin [b1927]
13. Galina Vishnevskaya [b1926]
14. Gundula Janowitz [b1937]
15. Karita Mattila [b1960]
16. Elisabeth Schumann [1888-1952]
17. Christine Brewer [b1960]
18. Renata Tebaldi [1922-2004]
19. Rosa Ponselle [18987-1981]
20. Elly Ameling [b1933]

The expert panel:
• John Allison Editor, Opera Magazine
• Kate Bolton Radio 3 Producer
• Catherine Bott Radio 3 Presenter and Soprano
• David Brickbill Historic Recordings Specialist
• Hugh Canning Sunday Times Opera Critic
• Andrew Farach-Colton Writer, Editor
• Hilary Finch Music Critic, The Times
• Howard Goldstein Music Professor at Auburn University, Alabama
• George Hall Writer, Editor, Translator
• Ashutosh Khandekar Editor, Opera Now Magazine
• Nick Morgan Freelance Radio Producer
• Richard Morrison Times Music Critic
• David Nice Writer, Biographer
• Anna Picard Chief Music Critic, Independent on Sunday
• Anthony Pryer Music Lecturer, Goldsmith’s College, London
• Michael Scott Rohan Author, Editor
• Jan Smaczny Professor of Music, Queen’s University, Belfast
• Geoffrey Smith Radio 3 Presenter
• Michael Tanner Spectator Opera Critic
• Robert Thicknesse Former Time Opera Critic
• Barry Witherden Freelance Critic

Powell Symphony Stage from balcony

Powell Symphony Stage from balcony

One last thing: Powell Symphony Hall in mid-town St. Louis is gorgeous. It was built in 1925 as the Missouri Theatre and featured the best of vaudeville acts and movies. It’s the home of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra today.

Powell Symphony Hall Web site

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