Sullivan without Gilbert!
By Frank Merkling
NEWS-TIMES ARTS CRITIC
NEWTOWN — Tina Johns Heidrich scored a coup Sunday by
casting an operetta composer in a new light.
On a program consisting of two works in the British choral tradition, Heidrich’s
Connecticut Master Chorale offered first the Requiem (1985) of contemporary John Rutter
and then the “Festival Te Deum” of Arthur Sullivan, written about the time Sullivan began
collaborating with Gilbert on comic operas.
The latter was an eye-opener.
Neither stately nor solemn in the manner of later Sullivan efforts such as “Onward,
Christian Soldiers” and “The Lost Chord,” the Te Deum began and ended triumphantly with a
hymn that became a fugue and along the way alternated punchy orchestral sections with
soprano solos anticipating heroines like “The Mikado’s” Yum-Yum.
The solos were handled sweetly by Emily Martin, who also took part in the Rutter
This popular work, fluent and current yet accessible, rises out of the depths into
light, later giving us a modal section recalling “Porgy and Bess” and a Sanctus in joyous
It was all properly reassuring.
The Te Deum., on the other hand, sounded thrilling as led by Heidrich, who as usual
gave her all and got the most out of her forces, all of them accurate, united and in tune.
(She even allowed herself a little dance to the triplets of Sullivan’s “We believe that
Thou shalt come.”)
All in all, a memorable time in St. Rose of Lima Church — a fresh glimpse at a master
of melody, harmony and orchestration.