Review: Grant Park Festival gives Midwest premiere of Kahane’s “Emergency Shelter Intake Form”

Posted on: July 8, 2019

“Writing an oratorio that embraces elements of classical, pop and folk music is no easy task,” writes Howard Reich in Saturday’s (7/6) Chicago Tribune. “It’s all the more formidable when the subjects are homelessness and poverty… That makes Gabriel Kahane’s ‘Emergency Shelter Intake Form,’ which received its Midwest premiere Friday night at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, quite an achievement…. The high craft of Kahane’s opus was apparent in a compelling performance by Kahane, vocal soloists, the Grant Park Orchestra and the Harmony, Hope & Healing Community Chorus. Carlos Kalmar, artistic director and principal conductor of the Grant Park Music Festival, skillfully led this reading of a work he premiered last year with the Oregon Symphony … Kahane’s libretto drove the piece, most of its 13 vignettes evoking the sterile and dehumanizing questionnaires that homeless people must negotiate in order to get a bed for the night…. All of this might have come across as rather heavy-handed, were it not for the melodic appeal of Kahane’s songwriting…. Most surprising of all was Kahane’s use of the orchestra… He shrewdly understated his case with instrumental sighs, passages of seemingly random dissonance and other forms of expressive tone painting.”

Posted July 8, 2019