May Festival presents 'The Dream of Gerontius' on May 26

Posted at 10:34 AM, May 26, 2017

CINCINNATI -- The second and final weekend of the annual Cincinnati May Festival takes place Friday and Saturday at the Taft Theatre in downtown Cincinnati.

The choral festival, the oldest of its kind on the continent, will incorporate choral masterpieces performed by the May Festival Chorus and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra alongside world-renowned guest conductors and soloists, as well as an immersive new concert experience dubbed “The Dream Project” curated by 2017 May Festival Creative Partner Gerard McBurney.

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The “Dream Project” performance Friday night was curated by McBurney and will feature Sir Edward Elgar’s "The Dream of Gerontius," a work that has not been performed at the May Festival since 1981.

"It is absolutely filled with beautiful romantic melodies," McBurney told WCPO. "Elgar was a master of melody, and I defy anybody to leave this place and not walk out into darkness in the rain afterwards with these melodies still ringing in their ears. Second, this is fabulously written for the chorus and orchestra, and he makes the most extraordinary coloristic effects. It's like looking at a gorgeous carpet of sound."

Regarded by many as Elgar’s masterpiece, the two-part oratorio draws on text from a poem by John Henry Newman. Elgar himself introduced this masterpiece to Cincinnati audiences at the 1906 May Festival. Leading the May Festival Chorus and orchestra in this performance will be Michael Francis, music director of The Florida Orchestra and the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, as well as chief conductor and artistic adviser of the Norrkoping Symphony Orchestra (Sweden). Francis most recently conducted the CSO in 2015.

Ticket information is available at the website here.