Hellfire and Damnation — The German Way

By Christie Franke

Finals are upon us, and who isn’t lamenting the stress and the mayhem? Luckily, the Utah Symphony is providing us all with a means of expressing our annoyance. It’s loud, ancient and in Latin. “Carmina Burana” is here, ready to ring in the joys of spring and the madness of money with intense monastic screams.

The name “Carmina Burana” comes from medieval German — which is too convoluted to go into here, it needs a class to explain it — and basically means “Burana Codex,” named for the abbey of Benediktbeuern (say that 10 times fast). Originally a book of poetry, the “Carmina Burana” was “discovered” in 1803, presumably when it fell on a monk’s head while he was cleaning the scriptorium.

Carl Orff composed the music in the 1930s. The full title is, if you can believe it, “Carmina Burana: Cantiones profanae cantoribus et choris cantandae comitantibus instrumentis atque imaginibus magicis.” (Kind of obscene, huh?) It translates out to “Secular songs for singers and choruses to be sung together with instruments and magic images.”

Make of that what you will, but, title aside, the music is absolutely fantastic. The topics of the songs range from the discussion of life and death to the seven deadly sins. Fittingly, Orff read 24 of these poems in an old magazine titled Wine, Women and Song. (Sometimes one really does wonder.)

The Symphony’s performance is in the standard concert setting and features soprano Maureen McKay, tenor John McVeigh, baritone Lucas Meacham and the Choir of the Madeleine School. Performances will be held on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Also featured in the performance is Kurt Weill’s “Second Symphony,” which hasn’t been performed at Abravenal since the 1970s, so it’s two fantastic pieces of music for the price of one. If that’s not incentive enough, look at it this way: classical music is said to make the brain function better, so going for a listen will actually help you with your finals (and who doesn’t want that?).

Treat yourself by calling the Abravenal Hall box office for student tickets at 801-533-NOTE (533-6683).

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