When it comes to choral music in the Twin Cities, Kathy Saltzman Romey’s name is almost synonymous. A prolific educator and chorusmaster, she’s known as one of the best around the United States, around the world and right here at home. In addition to her work on internationally recognized festivals including the Oregon Bach Festival and the Internationale Bachakademie Stuttgart, she served as director of choral activities at the University of Minnesota, where she oversaw the graduate program in choral conducting from 1992-2023. If you’ve ever seen the Minnesota Orchestra perform with chorus, it’s likely that Romey had a hand in the project–she’s long been the artistic director of the Minnesota Chorale, our principal chorus.
Kathy is back in rehearsal with the Chorale now as they prepare a favorite work of hers, from her perspective as both a chorusmaster and former flutist: Maurice Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé. They’ll join the Orchestra and Thomas Søndergård for this mystical music during his second week of inaugural concerts, September 28-30. It’s Kathy’s pick, and here’s why:
“Daphnis et Chloé is one of my very favorite works of the French repertoire for orchestra and chorus! It's an expansive, coloristic score composed by Ravel as a ballet in three parts based on an ancient Greek love story. I find the music to be extraordinarily beautiful as it flows seamlessly from one scene to the next.
“While the work can be performed with or without choir, the inclusion of voices adds a magical quality to the music, especially as the choir never sings any text! Ravel is brilliant and varied in his use of the chorus–embedding it as a mystical color within the orchestra at the beginning of Part One, featuring the unaccompanied choir in an eerie depiction of a pirates' camp in the opening of Part Two, or heightening the dramatic moment as the chorus joins the orchestra in the final frenzied dance of Part Three. As a former flutist, I also love that Ravel features the flute throughout the entire ballet in some of the most sublime solos of the symphonic repertoire.
“My advice–it's worth reading the synopsis of this pastoral drama beforehand so that you can completely give yourself over to the incredible beauty and power of the musical moment. We are thrilled to collaborate on this special program with our new Music Director Thomas Søndergård, who will most certainly inspire the orchestra and chorus to give everything they have in our performances of this epic work.”