Songs of Divine Chemistry, an amateur’s review

Kelly Salasin

I think I would need to see Paul Dedell’s composition, “Songs of DIVINE CHEMISTRY,” a second time and probably a third, in order to take in the fullness of its offering. But even within a single performance–even in the first few moments– I found myself stirred by this unusual exploration of love.

Matt Hensrud was the tenor who “narrated”  this composition, amusingly singing text from the “neuroscience” of love.  His “presence” and interpretation captivated me– both in voice and expression.

Mr. Hensrud was surrounded by the Limbic System Percussion Ensemble, comprised of  six percussionists who created an ever-evolving dance of sounds~ taking the audience on a journey through the textures of love.

At the heart of the stage was the Jubilee Children’s Chorus, who made their debut performance at this event.  The twenty-two member group of children, ages 8 to 13, added zest & color to the stage, surrounded as they were by the dark sea of the esteemed Brattleboro Concert Choir, adorned in black.

It was fascinating to watch the Director, Susan Dedell, weave the performance of the two choir’s together, not to mention the ensemble and the soloist.  Most notable (for me) was the dynamic seventh piece of the program, entitled (The Heart is) “The Thousand Stringed Instrument.” (I had to restrain myself from clapping aloud after its dramatic finish.)

But that wasn’t all.  In addition to the Director, the two choirs, the soloist and the percussion ensemble, there was a multi-media composition by Finn Campman projected on the Latchis Theater screen behind them all.  This created yet another layer of performance and expression, integrating the intersection of science and humanity in this celebration of love.

Upon returning home, I discovered that the lyrics for many of the songs came from the mystical poetry of Rumi, Hafiz, St. Francis, Sister Teresa of Avila and more. I look forward to reading these poems and reflecting back on their expression within the work.  I also look forward to seeing this composition again–hopefully in an IMAX theater–which in my amateur opinion would capture the fullness of this unique exploration of Love.

(Kelly Salasin writes about her journey with the Beloved, here, and at her marriage blog.)

Note: Songs of Divine Chemistry was commissioned by the Brattleboro Concert Choir in honor of the 100th birthday of chorus founder Blanche Moyse.  For more information about the Brattleboro Music Center in southern Vermont, click here.

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