Friday night I went to a choral concert. My friends AH and her husband DS sing in a local choral group, the Choral Arts Society. I had yet to make one of their concerts, so I was determined to make it to this one.
This particular concert showcased the works of local composers by partnering with the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Composers Forum. They performed the works of 6 artists, the first five of which were shorter. The pieces ran the gamut from poetry and prayers arranged with original music to new arrangements of existing works and hymns.
One of my favorites was the arrangement of a Jewish prayer for a funeral, the Kaddish, by David Ludwig. It was beautifully done, so serene yet full of emotion. The Mourners’ Kaddish itself, while spoken during funerals and during the period of mourning, does not actually mention death at all, but rather focuses on life and spirit and exalting God. I think David Ludwig did an amazing job of presenting this so it came through clearly in the music.
I particularly liked the fact that all the composers were there. They each spoke briefly before their piece was performed, giving us a little bit of information about what inspired them and what they aimed to create. It’s not something you normally get to hear, and it adds so much more to the performances to hear a bit of the background behind the pieces. The performance was also recorded, so the composers would have a copy of their work being performed for promotion and personal record.
The last piece was one that had been commissioned by the Choral Arts Society artistic director, Matthew Glandorf. He asked Anthony Mosakowski to do a rendition of the Passion according to St. John. Fortunately, this was not the 2 hour version of the Passion. The four soloists were incredible. And Anthony added to the usual limited role of the larger chorus. Typically their role consists of playing the part of the crowd or the people. But in the scripture itself, it references other scriptures and prophesies. So Anthony had the chorus singing and chanting those referenced parts in the background while the soloists sang the St. John scripture. It was interesting to hear the Passion with another layer added to it.
Overall, it was a beautiful concert. As someone that’s not normally a big choral music fan, I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed myself. The chorus is awesome, and I’m actually looking forward to future performances and hearing more choral music.
Afterwards, we went to grab a bite to eat and a drink at Dock Street Brewing Co. Their specialties? Beer (duh!) and pizza. Really really good pizza and small locally brewed batches for their draft beers. They have this great information board that lists all the available beers and a brief description of each one, which simplifies the selection process. I had their Baltic Porter, a porter brewed with maple syrup, which was very nice, dark, smooth, and had just a hint of sweetness. It complemented the pizza beautifully.
There were 7 of us, so we decided to split 2 large pizzas, which allowed for 2 slices each plus an extra for whomever was really hungry. These are not small slices, so two was plenty for me. We chose one with meat and one vegetarian pizza, which was not easy as there are many tasty options. We all agreed that there hard part of the decision was not agreeing on the choices, but having to limit ourselves to only two! The meat pizza we chose was the Flammenkuche and the vegetarian was the A La Greek. The Greek was pretty standard (tomatoes, feta, etc.) but topped with a mixed-greens salad, which was a nice addition. The Flammenkuche had bacon, gruyere cheese, caramelized onions, and rosemary. OMG that was yummy. The crust on both was perfect, thin while still soft and just a bit chewy.
The only negative about Dock Street? It’s very noisy. The building is an old firehouse, so there’s not much to it. High ceilings, lack of “soft” material, so everything echoes. Plus they have music playing. Not a place for intimate conversation. But I’ll certainly be back to try other beers and work my way through their incredible pizza menu.