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Review: Countertenor Mobley Hits the High Notes as Music for Guest Baroque Soloist | Third Coast Review

Review: Countertenor Mobley Hits the High Notes as Music for Guest Baroque Soloist | Third Coast Review

Reginald Mobley is a world famous player. If you didn’t know this beforehand, you might be surprised when he begins to sing in high, crystalline notes, in a range similar to the mezzo-soprano or contralto in the female voice.

Mobley’s immense talent makes him in high demand as a soloist on classical music companies such as Music of the Baroque. Not only did the band feature him in their concerts on November 20 (at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie) and November 21 (at the Harris Theatre) but gave him their highest award in a show called “Reginald Mobley Sings”.

Mobley — who last performed with Music of the Baroque in May 2019 — appeared on the first half of Monday’s concert, led by primary guest conductor and bassist Nicholas Kremer.

Baroque’s longtime principal guest Nicholas Kremer, with soloist Reginald Mobley on left. Photo by Bob Benenson.

Mobley stood at the backstage with Baroque choir music, directed by Andrew Meigl, and introduced the countertenor solos by 17th-century composer Henry Purcell Welcome to all pleasuresA paean to the joys of music and to Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

The orchestra moved to Purcell Fantasia is in three parts on the ground, which highlighted the return of concertmaster Gina DiBello—one of Chicago’s most astute classical violinists—after maternity leave. It is played with only six instruments (three violins, cello, harpsichord and the huge stringed instrument known as the turbo), fantasy It was written in a style popular at the time, which called to mind the more famous Canon in D Minor by Purcell’s contemporary Johann Pachelbel.

The Purcell Collection concluded with The Composer’s Sacred Side, a short but profound choral performance Hear my prayer, Lord. The chorus was in full voice, notable because some of Harris’s back stage performances had not made much impact on the audience.

The concerts on November 20 and 21 saw the return of Baroque concert director Gina DiBello and one of Chicago’s premier violinists, from maternity leave. Photo by Bob Benenson.

The first half concluded with Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 in G Major, a well-performed and familiar piece paired by DiBelo on solo violin with scores by Patrick O’Malley and Lisette Kelson. Baroque music is always serious about educating an audience, and Kremer has pointed out that the Brandenburg concertos, a staple of many orchestras of our modern times, weren’t discovered until 1850, 100 years after Bach’s death.

The second half was a completely different concert, with Mobley dominating the stage and receiving recognition from the appreciative audience after each piece.

His first song was the song Kara Sposa From an opera by George Frideric Handel Rinaldo. His piercing voice carried the emotions of this tear-jerker, as the title character mourns the disappearance of his beloved wife after being swept away by a jealous witch. (Never fear, this is a happy ending.)

Handel’s path continued with the song Vami battle from the opera Orlando. This time, the knight’s title character vows to do crazy things, even fight ferocious monsters, to win the love of the woman he wants (fail).

The orchestra gave Mobley a break with an instrumental ensemble that was incidental music to William Croft’s stage play Strange He Funeral Call comedy. The opus was a series of short dances and dances steeped in Scottish folk tradition, the purpose of which was to warm the audience for the upcoming theatre.

The official program ended with Mobley singing three of Handel’s arias Belshazzar Oratorio, a dynamic composition that has suffered such misfortune throughout history that it was overshadowed by Handel’s immediately earlier works: The messiah oratory.

In Gods, Mobley played the prophet Daniel, who predicted the fall of Babylon and its king, Belshazzar; as a Persian soldier celebrating the fact that the Euphrates had dried up, leaving Babylon defenseless; Then as Daniel thanks the Almighty again for the liberation of his people. she was Power Tour to Mobley.

Then Mobley returned to the stage for an appearance of a very different kind. In his notes, Mobley noted that the pandemic provided time for many musicians to assess the lack of recognition of the great composers and performers of color throughout most of the nation’s history. This led to Mobley collaborating with several artists on a self-titled album American originsmade up of songs by black and Latino composers.

Mobley sang an emotional song from the album titled dream facesin the voice of a man mourning the many acquaintances who have passed away, charting another round of bravery.

Baroque music returns with one of its annual highlights: a series of four brass and choral concerts. It will be performed Thursday, December 15, at Grace Lutheran Church in River Forest (click here for tickets priced from $35 to $85); Friday, December 16, at St. Michael’s Church in Old Town (click here for tickets priced between $35 and $100); Saturday, December 17th at Faith, Hope & Charity Church in Winnetka (click here for tickets priced from $40 to $105); and on Sunday, December 18, at Alice Millar Chapel in Evanston (click here for tickets, priced from $40 to $105).

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