'Carmina Burana' brings out best in musicians, audience

Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2004

Recently the Kenai Peninsula witnessed a watershed event in the arts: the live performance of Carl Orff's monumental "Carmina Burana" by the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra, Kenai Peninsula Community Chorus and the Homer High School Concert Chorus.

As an orchestra member, I was gratified beyond description by the unbridled enthusiasm that greeted each of the two performances in Homer and the finale in Kenai: packed houses, prolonged and raucous standing ovations and repeated curtain calls. We could not have hoped for a more fervent reception.

That gratitude extends to a great many other people, notably our Anchorage soloists Todd Jackson (baritone), Stasia Jamieson (soprano), and Andrew Sweeney (tenor). We are honored that vocalists of their stature would lend their remarkable talents to this local venture. There is no way to convey our debt of gratitude to Mark Robinson, the KPO artistic director who has urged the KPO to greater and greater heights under his baton, nor to the myriad volunteers who make this enterprise work on a daily basis.

But even more are we indebted to the people of the Kenai Peninsula themselves: to the support of the business community, the schools, the media (both print and radio) and, most importantly, to our loyal and ever-growing audiences. Having been a member of the KPO for 12 years, I have seen parallel growth in the ability (and audacity) of the KPO and chorus and in the support of our listeners -- not just in numbers but in the passion of your response.

"Carmina Burana" is a towering citadel of 20th century music; properly it is the province of large scale professional musical organizations. To have dared to storm it (for it really must be attacked to be performed at all) on the Kenai Peninsula, with Kenai Peninsula musicians, is outrageous beyond all description. Your response as an audience confirms (to borrow from Mark Helprin) that we have succeeded according to our wildest expectations.

Thank you.

Steve Hileman


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