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Dawn Upshaw and Orquesta Los Pelegrinos at Duke's Page Auditorium

02.23.08
Osvaldo Golijov
The Independent Weekly

A Jewish composer from Argentina, Osvaldo Golijov entwines folklore within a classical framework; Ayre is considered his masterpiece. 

Soprano Dawn Upshaw is a powerful muse to him, and, Saturday, she delivered soaring intensity to the sometimes jarring piece, singing deftly in Arabic, Hebrew and Ladino, the lost language of the Spanish Jews. Members of the Eighth Blackbird ensemble (who performed Ayre with additional musicians as the Orquesta) started with a busily energetic Stephen Hartke piece, but it was their exquisite trio performance-amplified flute, cello and piano-of George Crumb's Vox Balaenae (Voice of the Whale) that sent tremors through Page Auditorium. Three masked players, bathed in deep blue light: It was beautifully eerie, an arresting example of the most powerful new music.