A Prayer on the Mountaintop

By Rosemary Ponnekanti

Symphony Tacoma’s “Classics V” on April 30 rings with profound meditation, declamation and joy.

(…) But it was in the quiet stillness, the “mountaintop” from the final speech of Dr. Martin Luther King which inspired Danielpour’s composition, that McGill truly shone. With unbelievable breath and tone control, he climbed ever-longer phrases to a sublime pianissimo pinnacle, expressing both ultimate, transformative peace and the deep suffering that had led to it.

Where does an orchestra go after the mountaintop? Down to the river, of course – in this case, the Rhine. On paper, Schumann’s Symphony No. 3, the “Rhenish”, wouldn’t seem to be a likely piece to follow a passionate expression of the Civil Rights Movement. But in musical reality, it was perfect.

(…) The orchestra swept through the flowing waves of this river-inspired symphony. Fruity bass chords, light-hearted violins and a horn section clearly relishing every majestic note of their many solos – all shaped into meaningful structure and build under the baton of Sarah Ioannides. Like the sun after a storm, or the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth, it drew together the narratives of sorrow, stress and separation, reminding us all of what it is to be human together in the beauty of the world.

Share This