“….the Cantate Chamber Singers in Washington, always ready with innovative programs, went one better than many by devoting their whole 2013-14 season to [Benjamin Britten]…. Sure to be a highlight is “Curlew River,” the first of Britten’s three “Church Parables,” in this region’s first-ever fully-staged performance of this 1964 work.”
The Washington Post’s Anne Midgette, highlighting Cantate’s Curlew River in the Spring Arts Preview, January 31, 2014
In probably the best performance of this piece I’ve ever heard … [Becker shaped Benjamin Britten’s] “Cantata Misericordium” into a dramatic and architecturally coherent structure that built to a climax of exultation, pacing the evolving events of the Good Samaritan story with the logic of inevitability. Her 32-voice chorus sang weightlessly in the role of observers and with intensity and ferocious grit when it entered the fray — always with alacrity and always with seemingly effortless accuracy.
Listen to a clip:
Joan Reinthaler for the Washington Post, November 24, 2013
“…a truly amazing array of colors; an ensemble that is eccentric, sometime hilariously perverse, and deliciously supportive of [Lewis] Carroll’s witty text. Saylor tells the core story admirably… The choral forces…acquit themselves admirably under the energetic direction of Cantate Chamber Singers’ Artistic Director Gisèle Becker.”
Ronald E. Grames reviews Cantate’s recording of The Hunting of the Snark by Maurice Saylor (Naxos), Fanfare, January 2013
“For sheer tonal sumptuousness, it would be hard to beat the sounds that poured from the 29-voice Cantate Chamber Singers … conductor Gisèle Becker has her forces well trained and their light agility was as easy-sounding as their powerful blasts.”
Joan Reinthaler reviews Cantate’s “The Legacy of Fontainebleau” concert, Washington Post, November 18, 2012
“A large symphonic chorus is more or less hostage to the major choral repertoire. A smaller, more lithe chamber group has other options and, over the years, the Cantate Chamber Singers, under the leadership of Gisèle Becker, has taken some risks and, from time to time, has wandered into relatively unexplored but fertile territory.
The group’s latest venture in this respect was its participation Saturday in the premiere of Andrew Earle Simpson’s score for the 1928 silent film “The Wind,” starring a youthful Lillian Gish at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. That the choral performance was so embedded in the visual-dramatic ensemble that you can’t talk about it on its own is a testimony to the excellence of the undertaking.”
Joan Reinthaler reviews Andrew Earle Simpson’s The Wind score world premiere at the American Film Institute Silver Theatre, Washington Post, June 20, 2012
“[The Cantate Chamber Singers] concentrate on precision and clarity, trusting that such virtues will draw the audience in. In the close quarters of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Elizabethan Theatre, this works great; the harmonies of “Es ist ein Ros” flickered like a candle’s flame, but the complex double-choir writing in “Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ” (“Praised be you, Jesus Christ”) achieved a natural grandeur.”
Andrew Lindeman Malone (DMV Classical) reviews Cantate Chamber Singers’ holiday appearance with the Folger Consort, December 2009
“The Cantate Chamber Singers teamed with the distinctive and prolific D.C. ensemble Bowen McCauley Dance …. Conductor Gisèle Becker found the wit and neoclassical grace in this piece and drew lovely, text-conscious singing from the Chamber Singers.”
Joe Banno, Washington Post, reviews Cantate’s staging of Gian Carlo Menotti’s The Unicorn, the Gorgon, and the Manticore with newly commissioned choreography by Bowen McCauley Dance, January 20, 2009
“The Cantate Chamber Singers and an excellent group of vocal soloists brought rarely heard music by Handel to Bethesda … While Handel’s work follows the traditional Passion story—the course of events leading to Jesus’s crucifixion—it does so with fire and ice, combining high dramatic tension, an emotionally wrought cast of characters and even fast-paced dialogue …. The Cantate singers played the role of an ancient Greek chorus, commenting with a finger-pointing moralistic twist. Conductor Gisèle Becker took a speedy pace that, along with pungent dotted rhythms, further heightened the sense of theater.”
Cecilia Porter reviews Cantate’s regional premiere of the Handel Brockes Passion, Washington Post, March 24, 2009
“Gisèle Becker led her Cantate Chamber Singers through Bach’s empyrean masterpiece Mass in B Minor on Saturday in a version as transfixing as it was bold—one riveting in its fresh, impassioned and personal vision of Bach’s universality.”
Cecilia Porter reviews Cantate’s presentation of Bach’s Mass in B Minor Washington Post, October 4, 2004
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