Tales as Old as Time

Tales as Old as Time

September 22, 2015
Categories: Seattle Women's Chorus, Seattle

Chased by death through fog and forest at night. A step Into the Woods with Sondheim. Slimy, leathery tentacles and “eyes of ice and indigo.” Cannibals. CATS! Cat ladies. More cats. Poetry, Disney, and more!

This year’s Hallows in the Cathedral concert series celebrates classic stories and texts that have endured for centuries. As it’s the season of All Hallows Eve, there are tales of death, but also of life and the things that make it worth living: love, family, belonging, spirituality, and cats. These stories are sourced from religion, legend, poetry, theater and pop culture, and mix powerful classics with moving ballads and contemporary comedy.

In “Der Erlkönig,” the sweeping sounds from famed composer Franz Schubert accompany the text of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem about a father and his young son being chased by death through fog and forest at night. (You can see the story beautifully animated in this video.)

Jump ahead two hundred years to yet another song that takes us Into the Woods – “No One Is Alone” by Stephen Sondheim, arguably the most revered and successful living theater composer. In this musical parable, a mismatched crew of famous fairy tale characters head into the forest to chase their greatest desires, but in a surprisingly dark turn they are instead met with revenge, betrayal, and loss.

Commonly found throughout contemporary pop culture are depictions of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature of Native American legend. Our musical interpretation of the monster comes from Ogden Nash, hailed “the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry” by the New York Times. Though the myth originates in the land of moose and bears, this Wendigo features slimy, leathery tentacles and “eyes of ice and indigo.”

(Hallows in the Cathedral actually features a second song about a cannibal character, this one very unexpected, but we’ll leave that as a surprise.)

Following death and gore, we turn to a celebration of the mega-star of the internet, and every witch’s favorite accessory: CATS!

In “3rd Date Question,” our own Eric Lane Barnes has penned a dedication to the perennial single gal (aka the crazy cat lady) performed by the incomparable ensemble, Sensible Shoes.

Among a variety of songs dedicated to felines is the infamous “Memory” from Cats. One of the longest-running productions in Broadway and West End history, Cats has been enjoyed by literally tens of millions of people, but who knew that it was based on Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, a collections of poems by T.S. Eliot? He wrote them in letters to his Godchildren before publishing them in 1939.

But that’s just a sample of what to expect from the concert; rounding out the repertoire are songs from Senegalese poetry, nursery rhymes, and a classic fairy tale brought to life by Disney.

With such a great variety of musical offerings, this concert makes for a unique alternative to the pumpkin patch when celebrating the Halloween season. Please join us.