REVIEW: A Far Cry makes a luminous and powerful onstage debut at South Shore Conservatory with ‘Circle of Life’
Forgive me for being excited. This was the first music concert the Sleepless Critic has attended since 2020 and by none other than a Grammy-nominated group during the final days of summer. For A Far Cry, it was not only this renowned chamber orchestra’s debut at the South Shore Conservatory, but their first set of live performances to kick off their 15th season after last season was done entirely virtually.
Elegantly dressed in flowing dresses and suits, this Boston-based group of musicians couldn’t have been more thrilled to take the outdoor stage in front of a live audience again as the skies grew dark, the crickets chimed in, and the Amphitheater’s twinkling lights began to burn.
Tackling life’s tumultuously journey from sweeping birth to a peaceful end, A Far Cry opened their new season with Circle of Life at South Shore Conservatory’s Jane Carr Amphitheater on Saturday, September 18 in Hingham, Massachusetts. Click here to find out where A Far Cry will perform next.
A Far Cry’s Grace Kennerly offered a warm introduction as all 18 ‘criers’ took the stage for their opening work arranged by Alex Fortes of Bela Bartok’s Traditional Lullabies and For Children arranged by Leo Weiner. This work of sweeping, wondrous, and charming lullabies also delivers bursts of foreboding and urgency through a solo violin. Its soft, soothing strings create a dreamlike quality as the movement gallops toward exuberance and a sense of adventure.
A particular highlight of the concert lies within Franghiz Ali-Zaheh’s Shyschtar: Metamorphoses for String Orchestra which is described as ‘the development of oneself in the teenage years.’ Instantly captivating, Metamorphoses evokes strife and a mysterious urgency, almost sounding like something borrowed from Hitchcock. The carefully-timed violin plucking, occasional vocalizing, and haunting tapping enhances the work’s thrilling and suspenseful rhythms as the work builds to a searing climax before it takes an unexpectedly poignant tone and draws toward its eerie conclusion.
A Far Cry’s Jason Fisher introduced Antonin Dvorak’s stirring Serenade for Strings. This work carries its own quiet excitement as Dvorak wrote it while he and his wife were expecting. It has occasional undertones similar to a wedding march and like Lullabies, a dreamlike quality and a gentle building of anticipation. The lengthiest movement, Serenade for Strings delivers chirping peacefulness and quiet interludes with a touch of melancholy as it builds to an uproarious, gallivanting glee.
Karl Doty’s Castles, though it is Circle of Life’s shortest work, packs a no less powerful punch. It has a vibrancy and incandescence that comes together in a rush. With its occasional vocalizing, it evokes vitality, strength and a degree of reminiscing as this piece was written when Doty returned to his childhood home.
To complete the Circle of Life, A Far Cry performed Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 16 in F Major, Op. 135. It’s a combination of a quiet musing, searing rhythm, and an intangible foreboding of the inevitable. However, this piece also evokes a settling and resignation of what is to come.
Kicking off their 15th season on a powerful note with the exploration of life’s journey, A Far Cry will continue in October. Click here for A Far Cry’s upcoming performances and here for more information on South Shore Conservatory’s upcoming events.