from The Oakland Tribune, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 1965
Triumphant Musical Expression of Faith
By PAUL HERTELENDY
Historic occasions call for historic achievements, and the Opera House in San Francisco provided them in abundance last night.
A special musical program to demonstrate how the arts reflect religious faith was masterfully assembled and brilliantly performed for the 3,000 delegates of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations.
Foremost among the lavish achievements was the stunning world premier of David Amram's all-embracing choral memoriam for all men that have died to preserve freedom, "Let Us Remember."
Amram's neoromantic six-part work spoke an eloquent language from the very poetic pen of Langston Hughes. The universal message set to music from the traditional "Yiskor" is a work of moving profundity, of nobility, of compassion and of sincerity, all in a direrect style somewhere in the general neighborhoods of Honegger and Bernstein. A unifying musical motif bound the sections together with both subtlety and variety in this half- hour long outpouring of unadorned emotions.
Hughes' English text formed a requiem pyramid, enveloped by a theme verse and topped by the deep memory of past oppression: "Auschwitz, Dachau, Buchenwald ... Montgomery, Selma, Savannah ..." as well as hopes for a future; "A new world rises from the muck becoming a thousand roofs, buds, a billion leaves ...
Performing with great distinction, four vocal soloists were backed by the virtually complete Oakland Symphony, in its first Opera House concert, and the Oakland Chorus, along with a dazzling "guest choir" made Up almost exclusively of leading Bay Area soloists.
The enthusiastic reception called out to the stage the 35 year-old Amram, who seemed as overwhelmed by the enormmous impact of this colorful, yet forceful melodic work as any one.
This is a very listenable piece with a universial theme and a musical integrity that nowhere sacrifices the vocal theme for orchestral effect. It performs what Casale' "El Pessebre" I and Milhaud's "Pacem in Terris" set out to do with considerably greater success, musically speaking.