todd

I remember the evening distinctly, but not so much the concert that I reviewed (below). I was in Brentwood on that day. Our beloved cat Todd had gone missing from my sister’s house, about 25 miles away from ours, about 10 days before. Todd had been staying with her while we were out of town. As the days passed, we figured Todd was dead, probably eaten by coyotes. But what happened was I got home from the concert and found a message on our answer machine. It was from my sister and she was very excited. “We found Todd! We found Todd!” Her voice was trembling. Todd had been discovered in the backyard of a house in North Hollywood, hungry, his paws worn bare. North Hollywood was on a beeline between my sister’s house and our apartment in Los Feliz. He never told us, but we figured Todd had been walking home. He would have had to cross a freeway or two, and traverse a wild canyon or three to get where he was found.

MUSIC REVIEW : Anglican Choir Essays Sheppard’s Latin Works
Los Angeles Times, June 20, 1994|TIMOTHY MANGAN

With helicopters audibly circling a short distance away at the O. J. Simpson estate, a very different event was taking place atop the hill at Mount St. Mary’s College in Brentwood Friday evening. The counterpoint between the two was sometimes eerie.

In Mary Chapel, the Anglican Choir of St. Luke’s (of Monrovia) under director Dana T. Marsh was devoting an entire concert–reportedly for the first time in the United States–to the music of 16th-Century English Chapel Royal composer John Sheppard. Further limiting the field, Marsh and choir performed only Sheppard’s Latin liturgical music, most of it thought to have been written during the reign of Mary I and the brief re-establishment of papal authority in England.

If this all sounds rather strange and removed from our everyday experience, one could be thankful for that, yet Marsh aggressively and consistently fought that impression. He is an energetic and persuasive conductor, and he accomplished a welcome and never inappropriate athleticism in these performances. And since Sheppard’s music, on this occasion mostly in six parts, is above all richly and vigorously sonorous, Marsh’s approach (along with the resonant chapel acoustics) produced impressive results.

*

In all, the 21-voice ensemble offered 13 works, ranging from the quiet, solemn “Libera nos, salva nos” to the resplendent, texturally varied, eight-voice “Sacris solemniis,” considered one of the little-known composer’s finest achievements.

In these Latin works, the bare chant of the verses is set in startling contrast to the rolling, harmonious polyphony of the responses, saturated and glowing with thirds. The composer wrote particularly high soprano parts, and the Anglican Choir’s three sopranos trumpeted them with piercing purity. Indeed, the entire ensemble proved assured in all of its efforts, and euphonious, sensitive to musical curve and sturdy.

(June 17, 1994 was a Friday. My review was printed on the Monday after.)

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