Sound of Charlotte Blog

Mahler Symphony No. 2: 5 Questions With...Kenney Potter

Director of Choruses Kenney Potter is busy preparing the 140 singers of the Charlotte Symphony Chorus for performances of Mahler Symphony No. 2 on May 12 and 13. We sat down with Dr. Potter to ask a few questions about the process of preparing for such a massive work.
 
CS: What moment should audiences listen for in the Charlotte Symphony's performance of Mahler Symphony No. 2?
 
KP: Wow - there are so many! I think the chorus opening would be my favorite. It is hair-raisingly quiet.

CS: What are the challenges in preparing a 140 person chorus for the Resurrection Symphony?
 
KP: Speaking of....getting them to sing so quietly at the entrance. Also, it is such a massive work, balancing the chorus and orchestra is always an exciting challenge.

CS: What percentage of the Chorus would you say has participated in it before?
 
KP: Very few 13 people out of the 140-member chorus, and I've only performed it twice.

CS: How do you connect the singers with the emotions of Mahler's work?
 
KP: It isn't that difficult to do. You play a recording one time and they are hooked - then they sing it with piano and it gets really exciting. Only when they perform it with the full ensemble do you understand why this piece is so beloved.

CS: What kind of response are you getting from the members of the Chorus about this piece? What makes Mahler 2 different for them?
 
KP: They seem to be enjoying it, other than the fact that some of them are terrified to sing from memory! The challenge is that it is so physically and musically exhausting, particularly to be such a brief portion of the overall work (roughly 15 minutes).
 

Mahler Symphony No. 2
Friday, May 12 & Saturday, May 13
8 pm, Belk Theater at Blumenthal Performing Arts Center.
 
Tickets are available online or by phone at 704-972-2000.


5 Questions With...Kenney Potter

The Charlotte Symphony Chorus performs the Duruflé Requiem next Saturday, March 5, 2016 at First United Methodist Church. We caught up with Director of Choruses Kenney Potter to ask a few questions about the composer and this work.

We know Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986) composed this work in the 1940s and dedicated it to his father. What else do we know about its meaning?
KP: What I think is interesting about this work is that, at the time of this commission, Duruflé was also working on an organ suite using themes from Gregorian chant. Those themes are very noticeable in this work.

What most notably sets Duruflé's Requiem apart from other popular requiem compositions?
KP: He does set this work to the traditional requiem text, but it's intended to explore the different emotions around death for the survivors, so there is a real feeling of solace.

Unlike most requiem works, Duruflé excluded the "Dies irae" (day of wrath) text from his composition. Why?
KP: Similarly to the Fauré Requiem we heard in the fall, Duruflé chose to focus on the uplifting emotions of the survivors. He chose to compose in a more reflective, tranquil manner. There is a deeply spiritual, yet reserved, sense about the compositional style.

Tell us a bit about the soloists -- Andre Lash, organ; Clara O'Brien, mezzo soprano; Patrick Howle, baritone.
KP: We looked for singers in the region who would fit the colors, expectations, and requirements of this piece quite well, and I am looking forward to the artistic contributions of Clara and Patrick. It is going to be an exciting performance!
We engaged Andre Lash, the organist, for a couple of reasons: one, it's nice to bring back a part of the Symphony family. Andre was the accompanist for the Charlotte Symphony Chorus (formerly Oratorio Singers of Charlotte) for many years. He's also an accomplished and respected organist in our region and I have conducted this piece with him before. It will be nice to work with him again - and all the soloists!

How will performing the Requiem in the historic sanctuary of First United Methodist Church amplify the experience for the audience?
KP: The European architecture of FUMC is exactly what we were looking for in order to capture the sacred essence of the concert and help the audience really step into the works through the natural ambiance of the church.

Full program:
PARRY I Was Glad
BRITTEN Rejoice in the Lamb
DURUFLE Requiem

Tickets are $10 at the door. For more information, please click here.


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