Concert Review: Haggie’s “Ahab Symphony” premieres at University of North Texas

Posted on: April 26, 2013

In Thursday’s (4/25) Dallas Morning News, Scott Cantrell writes, “A roaring ovation followed Wednesday night’s world premiere of Jake Heggie’s Ahab Symphony. Commissioned by the University of North Texas, as part of an artist-in-residence program, the new piece, for tenor solo, chorus and orchestra, was introduced at the university’s Murchison Performing Arts Center. Twenty-eight minutes long, in four movements, the symphony is an offshoot from Heggie’s opera Moby-Dick, based on the Herman Melville novel and premiered by the Dallas Opera in 2010. Here, Heggie intersperses Captain Ahab’s musings at the end of the novel with lines from W.H. Auden’s poem ‘Herman Melville,’ imagining the novelist at the end of his life. Both texts muse, in effect, on the coexistence of good and evil. The first movement, ‘Dawn,’ opens with watery ripples and eddies. The second, ‘The Wind,’ has the chorus huffing breathy ‘hah!’ sounds and rapidly repeating ‘the wind, the wind.’ … Richard Croft sang the tenor part as if written for him, with sinewy sound where called for and elsewhere lovely high croons. The large UNT Grand Chorus (Jerry McCoy, director) sang with full and refined tone, although words could have been clearer. David Itkin presided authoritatively and expressively over forces including an accomplished UNT Symphony Orchestra.”

Posted April 26, 2013