Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Oratorio director gets bumped-up title

It's too bad that no one recorded the Charlotte Symphony's performances of Mozart's "Requiem" last month. The drama, eloquence and precision were a tribute to the orchestra and, even more, the Oratorio Singers of Charlotte. While the performances won't have a digital afterlife, the Singers' director is getting a consolation prize.

The orchestra is beefing up Scott Allen Jarrett's title. When he steps onto the podium Dec. 14 to conduct Handel's "Messiah," he'll do so as the orchestra's director of choruses and assistant conductor. (In case you're wondering about the plural "choruses," it isn't that the orchestra expects him to add more of them. It's counting the Singers' chamber chorus separately.)

The orchestra says the change recognizes Jarrett's leadership of the Oratorio Singers and his expanded role in the orchestra's activities.

"Under his directorship the chorus has flourished," music director Christopher Warren-Green said in a statement. "The progress is remarkable, and the entire Charlotte musical community is fortunate to have such excellent leadership."

This season, Jarrett's duties include conducting "Messiah" next week and Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana" for the KnightSounds series in February; training the Oratorio Singers in "Magic of Christmas" music, Mozart's "Requiem" and Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis"; and conducting the Singers' chamber chorus in its annual performance at the Piccolo Spoleto festival in Charleston.

Even though Jarrett won't conduct Beethoven's "Missa Solemnis" in May -- Warren-Green will -- it may be his biggest test since he took over the Oratorio Singers in 2004. The "Missa" is not only one of the most eloquent of all choral works, it's one of the most challenging to learn and sing. Warren-Green's predecessor, Christof Perick, stayed away from it for that reason. But Jarrett, who has conducted it with a Boston group he also leads, thinks the Oratorio Singers can do it. If they pull it off, that'll be his real prize.