Choral Society Performs ‘A Piece for All of the Senses’

Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana”
The Choral Society of the Hamptons, three of whose members can be seen here rehearsing for last summer’s concert, will perform Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana” on Saturday. Durell Godfrey

The Choral Society of the Hamptons will present as its summer concert Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana,” regarded as the composer’s masterpiece and one of the most frequently performed choral works of this century, in two performances Saturday, at 5 and 7:30 p.m. at the Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church.

Led by Mark Mangini, its music director and conductor, the chorus will be joined by three soloists, Chelsea Shepherd, soprano, Alex Guerrero, tenor, and Dominic Inferrera, baritone. Two pianists, Konstantin Soukhovetski and Matthew Maimone, and five percussionists will provide instrumentation. Students from Pierson Middle and High School will participate as the “Ragazzi,” or children’s choir.

Orff derived his text for the cantata, whose title translates as “Songs of Beuren,” from a 13th-century manuscript containing songs and poems that was discovered in 1803 at a Bavarian monastery. From the 1,000 songs, which presented a varied view of medieval life and included social satires and drinking songs, Orff selected 24, which he arranged into a prologue, an epilogue, and three parts.

After “Carmina Burana” premiered in Frankfurt in 1937, when Orff was 41, he wrote to his publishers, “Everything I have written to date . . . can be destroyed. With ‘Carmina Burana’ my collected works begin.” Though he was considered a leftist in the 1920s and collaborated extensively with Brecht, by the 1940s “Carmina Burana” was one of the most popular pieces in Nazi Germany, and he continued to be active as a composer under the Nazis.

In an interview broadcast by NPR, Marin Alsop, an American conductor and violinist, described the cantata as “a spectacle. It’s very hard to categorize, and that was Orff’s intent. He wanted it to be a piece for all of the senses: to hear the voice, to hear the words, to experience this enormous orchestra . . . there are so many different varieties of musical styles that come into play.”

Tickets, which are available through the society’s website and at Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor, are $30 in advance and $35 at the door, with youth tickets $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Preferred seating can be had for $75. 

The Choral Society of the Hamptons is an auditioned chorus that performs with professional conductors, orchestras, accompanists, and soloists from throughout the metropolitan region. It has presented high-quality choral music on the East End since it was founded in 1946 by the late Charlotte Rogers Smith, a local choir director.